The effect of omega-3 fatty acids supplementation on social and behavioral disorders of children with autism: a randomized clinical trial

Pediatr Endocrinol Diabetes Metab. 2021;27(1):12-18. doi: 10.5114/pedm.2020.101806.


Introduction: Some studies reported that essential fatty acids deficiencies can be related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children. This study aimed to investigate the effect of omega-3 on social, verbal, and behavioral activities in ASD children.

Material and methods: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial study was conducted on 54 children with autism, who were assigned to the case (n = 28) and control (n = 26) groups. The cases received one capsule of 1000 mg omega-3 daily and the controls received one capsule of 1000 mg medium chain triglyceride daily as placebo for eight weeks. The Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-second edition (GARS-2) was used to assess the severity of autism and food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was used to assess their dietary intake. All measurements were done at baseline and after the intervention.

Results: After adjusting for age, gender, birth weight, BMI, dietary intake, mother's age, and mother's BMI, the intervention group had significantly improved stereotyped behaviors (p = 0.02), social communication (p = 0.02), and the GARS score (p = 0.001) after the intervention compared to the control group. No significant change was found in the score of social interaction subscale.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that omega-3 treatment improved autism characteristics including stereotyped behaviors and social communication. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and to determine the underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: autism; autism spectrum disorders; dietary fat.; omega-3.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Autistic Disorder* / therapy
  • Child
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3* / therapeutic use
  • Humans


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3