Initial reports of deficiencies of essential fatty acids among children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia raised the promise of potential nondrug treatments. Convincing treatment data from interventional trials has not yet been reported. (Stevens et al. (1995) found that 53 subjects with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder had significantly lower concentrations of AA, EPA, and DHA in plasma polar phospholipids when compared to 43 control subjects. (Stordy 1995) has described decreased rod function comparing 10 young dyslexics to 10 controls. In an open trial, supplementation with a fish oil containing 480 mg of DHA/d for 1 mo improved scotopic vision among these dyslexics. Stordy (2000) has also reported that supplementation with a mixture of essential fatty acids improved motor skills in a open trial of 15 children. Two well-controlled, double-blind placebo-controlled trials among children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder supplemented with either DHA alone (Voigt, 1998) or a mixture of EPA plus DHA (Burgess, 1998) were presented at an international workshop in 1998. However, to our knowledge, neither positive nor negative results from these studies have appeared in publication. One important confounding factor is that the diagnosis of behavioral disorders among children is often very difficult. For example, many children with bipolar affective disorder may respond to supplementation but may be mistaken for children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The published data are insufficient to either accept or reject the hypothesis that omega-3 supplementation is useful in treating behavioral disorders among children, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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