Evid Based Mental Health 15:46 doi:10.1136/ebmental-2011-100523
  • Therapeutics

Review: ω-3 fatty acids produce a small improvement in ADHD symptoms in children compared with placebo



Is ω-3 fatty acid supplementation effective in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children?


Primary outcome: change in ADHD severity (standardised mean difference in change between intervention and placebo). Secondary outcome: relationship between dose of different ω-3 fatty acids in supplements and effectiveness.



Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources

PUBMED was searched from 1965 up to December 2010. Unpublished or ongoing trials were searched for using the website. Hand searches of the reference lists of relevant meta-analyses or reviews were also conducted.

Study selection and analysis

Randomised placebo-controlled trials which examined the efficacy of ω-3 fatty acid supplementation in children with ADHD or targeting ADHD symptoms in undiagnosed children or those with comorbidities were included. Studies were required to have used a validated rating scale to measure ADHD symptom severity. Trials where other psychoactive substances were started at the same time as ω-3 fatty acid supplementation were excluded but supplementation was allowed to augment existing pharmacotherapy. RevMan 5 was used to carry out fixed effects meta-analysis of the results, with SPSS 19.0 to carry out meta-regression.

Main results

Ten randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in 699 …