Brain Function-Learning disorders EPA &DHA in ADhD

DHA improves literacy, behaviour & attention in children with ADHD better than EPA.

Objective: To investigate the effects of EPA, DHA or placebo on behaviour, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD, to determine if those with lower omega-3 status respond better and to correlate changes in PUFA status with changes in behaviour and literacy/cognition.

Study Design:

  • Randomised, three way cross-over, triple-blind (investigators, children and parents), placebo-controlled trial.
  • 90 children aged 6-12 years old diag- nosed with ADHD or with parent-rated symptoms >90th percentile on the Conners Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) and parent reported learning difficul- ties where literacy performance was behind their level in school.
  • Given 4 X 500 mg capsules/day of either EPA-rich fish oil (1109 mg EPA & 108 mg DHA), or a DHA-rich fish oil (1032 mg DHA & 264 mg EPA) or placebo for 4 months each for a total of 12 months.



  • Red blood cell (RBC) fatty acids status Primary Outcomes.
  • Literacy using the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III).
  • Vocabulary performance using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.
  • Parent Rated ADHD Symptoms using  the long version of the CPRS.


Secondary Outcomes:

  • Various forms of attention using the Test.
  • Everyday Attention for Children.
  • Focused attention using the Sky Search Sustained attention using Score ! Tasks Ability to switch & control attention using Creature Counting.
  • Divided attention by Sky Search & Score Tasks.
  • Inhibition or ability to hold back a response using a computerized Go/No-go task.


Summary of Benefits Achieved

Conclusion: Increases in DHA status through supplementation may improve literacy and behaviour in children with ADHD with the greatest benefits in chil- dren having comorbid learning difficulties.

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