Researchers from the Yale Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis of the use of omega-3 fatty acid as a supplement in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
PubMed searches for randomized placebo-controlled trials that evaluated omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in children with ADHD symptomatology revealed that the addition of omega-3 fatty acid may decrease symptoms of ADHD.
Ten trials involving 699 children were included in this meta-analysis. The primary outcome measurement was standardized mean difference in rating scales of ADHD severity. Secondary analyses were conducted to determine the effects of dosing of different omega-3 fatty acids in supplements.
According to the study published in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, particularly with higher doses of eicosapentaenoic acid, was modestly effective in the treatment of ADHD when compared with currently available pharmacotherapies for ADHD such as psychostimulants, atomoxetine, or α2 agonists. The authors note that given its relatively benign side-effect profile and evidence of modest efficacy, it may be reasonable to use omega-3 fatty supplementation to augment traditional pharmacologic interventions or for families who decline other psychopharmacologic options.