Research: AMMINGER and others,

Listed in Issue 148


AMMINGER and others, Department of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria,, have tested omega-3 fatty acids in children with autism.


There is increasing evidence that fatty acid deficiencies or imbalances may contribute to childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of n-3 fatty acid supplementation on children with autism.


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


The authors observed an advantage of n-3 fatty acids compared with placebo for hyperactivity and stereotypy, 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.

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