Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden

Johnson, M., Fransson, G., Östlund, S., Areskoug, B. and Gillberg, C. (2016) Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 58(1), pp. 83-93. (doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12614) (PMID:27545509)

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Abstract

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. Methods: 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/diarrhea (active n = 9, placebo n = 2). Conclusions: 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.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding Information: Vifor Pharma, Switzerland.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gillberg, Professor Christopher
Authors: Johnson, M., Fransson, G., Östlund, S., Areskoug, B., and Gillberg, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0021-9630
ISSN (Online):1469-7610
Published Online:22 August 2016

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