Research: JOHNSON and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 267

Abstract

JOHNSON and COLLEAGUES, 1. Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden performed a 3-month parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine whether Omega 3/6 improved reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren.

Background

Previous research has shown positive effects of Omega 3/6 fatty acids in children with inattention and reading difficulties. We aimed to investigate if Omega 3/6 improved reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren.

Methodology

We performed a 3-month parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial followed by 3-month active treatment for all subjects. Mainstream schoolchildren aged 9-10 years were randomized 1:1 to receive three Omega 3/6 capsules twice daily or identical placebo. Assessments were made at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. The primary outcome measure was the Logos test battery for evaluating reading abilities. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02557477.

Results

The study enrolled 154 children (active n = 78; placebo n = 76), of whom 122 completed the first 3 months (active n = 64; placebo n = 58) and 105 completed the whole study (active/active n = 55; placebo/active n = 50). Outcomes were assessed by per protocol (PP) and intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses. Active treatment was superior to placebo at 3 months for improvement in phonologic decoding time (PP active/placebo difference -0.16; 95% CI -0.03, -0.29; effect size (ES) .44; p = .005; and ITT ES .37; p = .036), in visual analysis time (PP active/placebo difference -0.19; 95% CI -0.05, -0.33; ES .49; p = .013; and ITT ES .40; p = .01), and for boys in phonologic decoding time (PP -0.22; 95% CI -0.03, -0.41; ES .62; p = .004). Children with ADHD-RS scores above the median showed treatment benefits in visual analysis time (PP ES .8, p = .009), reading speed per word (PP ES .61, p = .008), and phonologic decoding time per word (PP ES .85, p = .006). Adverse events were rare and mild, mainly stomach pain/diarrhoea (active n = 9, placebo n = 2).

Conclusion

Compared with placebo, 3 months of Omega 3/6 treatment improved reading ability - specifically the clinically relevant 'phonologic decoding time' and 'visual analysis time' - in mainstream schoolchildren. In particular, children with attention problems showed treatment benefits.

References

Johnson M1, Fransson G1, Östlund S1, Areskoug B1, Gillberg C1. Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden. J Child Psychol Psychiatry; 58(1):83-93. Jan 2017 doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12614. Epub 2016 Aug 22.

Comment

The above randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, compared with placebo, showed that 3 months of Omega 3/6 fatty acids improved the reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren, particularly in children with attention problems.

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