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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 article
Authors Mats Johnson
Gunnar Fransson
Sven Östlund
Björn Areskoug
Christopher Gillberg
Published in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume 58
Issue 1
Pages 83-93
ISSN 0021-9630
Publication year 2017
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 83-93
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12614
Keywords Omega 3/6 Reading
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences

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.

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