Research: AMMINGER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 143


AMMINGER and colleagues, Department of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,, have conducted a trial of n-3 fatty acids in autistic children.


There is increasing evidence that fatty acid deficiencies or imbalances may contribute to childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis.


In a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled 6-week pilot trial, 13 children (aged 5 to 17 years) with autistic disorders accompanied by severe tantrums, aggression, or self-injurious behaviour were enrolled. The effects of 1.5 g/d of n-3 fatty acids (.84 g/d eicosapentaenoic acid, .7 g/d docosahexaenoic acid) supplementation was examined. The outcome measure was the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) at 6 weeks.


An advantage of n-3 fatty acids compared with placebo for hyperactivity and stereotypy was observed, each with a large effect size. Repeated-measures ANOVA indicated a trend toward superiority of n-3 fatty acids over placebo for hyperactivity. No clinically relevant adverse effects were elicited in either group.


The results of this study provide preliminary evidence that n-3 fatty acids may be an effective treatment for children with autism.


Amminger GP, Berger GE, Schafer MR, Klier C, Friedrich MH, Feucht M. Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in children with autism: a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. Biological Psychiatry 61 (4): 551-553, Feb 15, 2007.


This is an important initial research result, which needs to be followed up with urgency.

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