Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, working memory and behavior in UK children aged 7-9: a randomized controlled trial for replication (the DOLAB II study)

Montgomery, P., Spreckelsen, T. F. , Burton, A., Burton, J. R. and Richardson, A. J. (2018) Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, working memory and behavior in UK children aged 7-9: a randomized controlled trial for replication (the DOLAB II study). PLoS ONE, 13(2), e0192909. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192909) (PMID:29462158) (PMCID:PMC5819802)

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Background: Omega-3 fatty acids are central to brain-development of children. Evidence from clinical trials and systematic reviews demonstrates the potential of long-chain Omega-3 supplementation for learning and behavior. However, findings are inconclusive and in need of robust replication studies since such work is lacking. Objectives: Replication of the 2012 DOLAB 1 study findings that a dietary supplementation with the long-chain omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had beneficial effects on the reading, working memory, and behavior of healthy schoolchildren. Design: Parallel group, fixed-dose, randomized (minimization, 30% random element), double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (RCT). Setting: Mainstream primary schools (n = 84) from five counties in the UK in 2012–2015. Participants: Healthy children aged 7–9 underperforming in reading (<20th centile). 1230 invited, 376 met study criteria. Intervention: 600 mg/day DHA (from algal oil), placebo: taste/color matched corn/soybean oil; for 16 weeks. Main outcome measures: Age-standardized measures of reading, working memory, and behavior, parent-rated and as secondary outcome teacher-rated. Results: 376 children were randomized. Reading, working memory, and behavior change scores showed no consistent differences between intervention and placebo group. Some behavioral subscales showed minor group differences. Conclusions: This RCT did not replicate results of the earlier DOLAB 1 study on the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation with DHA for learning and behavior. Possible reasons are discussed, particularly regarding the replication of complex interventions. Trial registration and protocol: (ISRCTN48803273) and (

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The study was funded by DSM Nutritional Products (
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Spreckelsen, Dr Thees
Creator Roles:
Spreckelsen, T. F.Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Software, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Montgomery, P., Spreckelsen, T. F., Burton, A., Burton, J. R., and Richardson, A. J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Montgomery et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192909
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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