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A Placebo controlled, randomized study of PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids) as treatment for neurodevelopmental problems in 7-year-old children and cognitive performance in relation to an age-matched control group
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Local Health Care Services in Central Östergötland, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Division of Paediatrics, Department of Clinical Sciences, Umeå University.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Paediatrics in Linköping.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVE: The goal of the present randomized placebo controlled double-blind study was to investigate the potential effect of PUFA supplementation on cognitive and behavioural performance in children with neurodevelopmental problems at 7 years of age (n = 28) and to compare findings with an age matched healthy control group (n = 20).

METHODS: Children were screened with parent and teacher rating scales (Conner’s and SNAP-IV), and were included if they showed a range of neurodevelopmental problems that reached ADHD criteria. The group with neurodevelopmental difficulties was randomized to treatment with an EPA rich formula (n = 13) or to placebo (n = 15). Cognitive performance was determined at baseline and after 15 weeks of supplementation with a cognitive test battery including executive function and theory of mind tasks.

RESULTS: Children with neurodevelopmental problems differed from the control group regarding working memory, inhibition and language ability, but not on an advanced theory of mind task. Regarding the treatment with EPA supplement there were no significant advantages in the active treatment group compared to placebo in any of the cognitive measures or in parents or teacher rating scales.

CONCLUSION: The significant differences in cognitive performance and rating scales between the group with neurodevelopmental problems and the healthy control group at baseline indicate problems at a clinical level and suitability for treatment. However we found no significant effects of PUFA supplementation. The study is small and limited by a number of drop-outs.

National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68080OAI: diva2:416085
Available from: 2011-05-10 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2011-05-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Fats in Mind: Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cognition and Behaviour in Childhood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fats in Mind: Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cognition and Behaviour in Childhood
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Fats in Mind : Effekter av omega-3 fettsyror på kognition och beteende under barndomen
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to examine possible effects of omega-3 fatty acids on children’s cognition and behavior. Longitudinal as well as cross-sectional comparisons were made among children with typical development and children with ADHD /at risk developing ADHD.

The specific purposes were to examine (1) breast-feeding in relation to cognition; (2) relation between long chain poly unsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in mothers breast-milk and children´s cognition; (3) effects of EPA supplementation on cognition and behavior in children with ADHD; (4) if LCPUFAs have differential effects on working memory, inhibition, problem-solving and theory of mind (ToM).

The main conclusions were as follows; (1) duration of breast-feeding was positively correlated to children levels of intelligence (IQ); (2) LCPUFAs in breast-milk was related to children’s ToM and IQ, the quotient DHA/AA, together with length of breastfeeding and gestation week explained 76% of the variance of total IQ; (3) subtypes of children with ADHD responded to EPA supplementation with significant reductions in symptoms, but there were no effects in the whole group with ADHD; (4) ToM ability was related to LCPUFAs, but not to any other cognitive measures as working memory, inhibition and problem-solving.

To conclude, these results indicate that fatty acid status in breast-milk at birth affect general cognitive function in children at 6.5 years of age, including ToM. Short-term intervention with omega-3 fatty acids does not affect cognition in children with ADHD, but improves clinical symptoms as assessed by means of teacher ratings. These results further indicate that hot executive function and social cognition may be an area of interest for future research.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med denna avhandling var att undersöka möjliga effekter av omega-3 fettsyror för barns kognition och beteende. Både kortsiktiga och långsiktiga effekter undersöktes och studierna involverade både barn med typisk utveckling och barn med ADHD.

De specifika syftena var att undersöka; (1) amning i relation till barns kognitiva utveckling; (2), relationen mellan långa fleromättade fettsyror (LCPUFA) i mammans bröstmjölk och barns kognition; (3) effekter på kognition och beteenden hos barn med ADHD av ett EPA tillskott; (4) om LCPUFA hade några differentiella effekter på arbetsminne, inhibering eller Theory of Mind (ToM).

De huvudsakliga slutsatserna var följande; (1) amningslängden var positivt korrelerad med barnens intelligenskvot (IK); (2) LCPUFA i bröstmjölken var associerad med barnens ToM och IK, kvoten DHA/AA, tillsammans med amningslängd och graviditetslängd förklarade 76% av variansen i totala IK; (3) subgrupper av barn med ADHD svarade på EPA behandlingen med signifikant reducerade symptom, men för hela gruppen med ADHD hittades inga effekter; (4) ToM var relaterat till LCPUFA, men inga andra kognitiva mått som arbetsminne, inhibering eller problemlösning.

Sammanfattningsvis indikerar dessa resultat att fettsyrestatus i bröstmjölk påverkar generell kognitiv förmåga, samt ToM, hos barn 6,5 år gamla. Korttidsintervention med omega-3 fetter påverkar inte kognition hos skolbarn med ADHD, men minskar kliniska symptom skattade i lärarskattningsskalor. Vidare indikerar resultaten att ”heta” exekutiva funktioner och social kognition kan vara av intresse för framtida forskning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2011. 119 + studies 1-4 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 530Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 158Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 37
Cognition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Children, ADHD, Executive Functions, kognition, omega-3 fettsyror, barn, ADHD, exekutiva funktioner
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68081 (URN)978-91-7393-164-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-06-07, Key 1, Hus Key, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-05-10 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2014-10-07Bibliographically approved

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Birberg Thornberg, UlrikaGustafsson, Per A.Duchén, Karel
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Department of Behavioural Sciences and LearningFaculty of Arts and SciencesChild and Adolescent PsychiatryFaculty of Health SciencesDepartment of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryPediatricsDepartment of Paediatrics in Linköping

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