Clinically Significant Symptom Reduction in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Treated With Micronutrients: An Open-Label Reversal Design Study

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2015 Dec;25(10):783-98. doi: 10.1089/cap.2015.0105.

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical effect and safety of a broad spectrum, 36 ingredient micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) in treating children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methods: This open-label, on-off-on-off (reversal design) study followed 14 participants (8-12 years of age) with ADHD, diagnosed using standardized instruments, for 6 months with no dropouts. Following baseline assessment, including hematology and biochemistry screening, participants began an 8 week treatment phase with micronutrients titrated up to maximum dose (15 capsules/day). Treatment was withdrawn for 4 weeks, reinstated for a further 8 weeks, and then withdrawn for 4 weeks. Primary outcomes included the Conners' Parent Rating Scale, the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (CGI), and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire - Parent version (SDQ). Secondary outcomes were mood and global functioning.

Results: Modified Brinley plots revealed a reduction in ADHD symptoms, improved mood, and improved overall functioning during intervention phases, and deterioration in ADHD symptoms, mood, and overall functioning during the withdrawal phases. Reliable change analyses, Cohen's d and percent superiority effect sizes, 95% confidence intervals and t tests confirmed clinically and statistically significant change between the intervention and withdrawal phases, with large effect sizes observed pre- to post-exposure of micronutrients (d = 1.2-2.2) on ADHD symptoms during intervention phases. Seventy-one percent of participants showed at least a 30% decrease in ADHD symptoms by the end of the second treatment phase, and 79% were identified as "much improved" or "very much improved" at the end of the second phase (5 months) based on the clinician-rated CGI when considering functioning generally. The SDQ showed that these benefits occurred across other areas of functioning including emotional symptoms, conduct problems, and prosocial behaviours. The children's self-reports confirmed the improvements. Excellent adherence to treatment occurred throughout, side effects were mild and transitory, and no safety issues were identified through blood analyses.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the clinical benefit, feasibility, and safety of broad-spectrum micronutrients in the treatment of childhood ADHD. Replications utilizing double-blind placebo-controlled studies are warranted. Trial is registered with the Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry: ACTRN12612000645853.

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / pharmacology
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Parents

Substances

  • Micronutrients

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12612000645853