Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Oct;62(4):761-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/62.4.761.


Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the term used to describe children who are inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. The cause is unknown and is thought to be multifactorial. Based on the work of others, we hypothesized that some children with ADHD have altered fatty acid metabolism. The present study found that 53 subjects with ADHD had significantly lower concentrations of key fatty acids in the plasma polar lipids (20:4n-6, 20:5n-3, and 22:6n-3) and in red blood cell total lipids (20:4n-6 and 22:4n-6) than did the 43 control subjects. Also, a subgroup of 21 subjects with ADHD exhibiting many symptoms of essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency had significantly lower plasma concentrations of 20:4n-6 and 22:6n-3 than did 32 subjects with ADHD with few EFA-deficiency symptoms. The data are discussed with respect to cause, but the precise reason for lower fatty acid concentrations in some children with ADHD is not clear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Diet Records
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / deficiency
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / metabolism*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Lipids