Autism Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acid as an Autism Treatment

Autism Research:

Safety and Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acids as an Autism Treatment Researched
Research Studies Safety and Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acids as an Autism Treatment

Many individuals with autism use or have used fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids.  Many have reported benefit from this treatment while others have not.  A study involving omega-3 fatty acids as an autism treatment was conducted to determine the safety and efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids as an autism treatment.  The findings were published in an article titled Omega-3 Fatty Acid Treatment in Autism.

The research utilized an open-label study design.  It included 10 children between the ages of 4 and 7 years who had been diagnosed with autism.  Each child was given 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day over a period of 12 weeks.  The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist was utilized to measure any benefit or improvements seen with omega-3 fatty acid treatment.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Nine out of the 10 children finished the 12 weeks of omega-3 fatty acid treatment.  The overwhelming majority, 8 out of 9, showed improvements in the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist scores.  More specifically, the 8 children showed an improvement of approximately 33% on their Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist with omega-3 fatty acid treatment.

The study also found that none of the children experienced worsened symptoms during the treatment period and no side effects were reported.

The authors state that the findings suggest omega-3 fatty acid treatment is safe and effective as an autism treatment.  However, they also suggest that larger studies need to be conducted utilizing double-blind methodology.  They also recommend that future studies include various dosages of omega-3 fatty acids in order to determine the most effective dose in the treatment of autism.

The article was epublished in August 2009 in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

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Autism Research: Study Researches Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Hyperactivity in Autistic Children

Autism Research:

Effect of Fish Oil (Omega-3 Fatty Acids) on Hyperactivity in Children with Autism
Research Studies the Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Hyperactivity in Autistic Children

Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation is a treatment that is commonly recommended for autistic children.  Recent research attempted to determine the effect that omega-3 fatty acids might have on hyperactivity in children with autism.  The safety of the supplement was also studied.  The findings were published in an article titled A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The 12-week randomized, placebo-controlled study included 27 children with autism ages 3 to 8 years old.  The study group consisted of 14 children who received 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day.  The control group consisted of 13 children who received a placebo.  Changes in hyperactivity were measured using the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Benefits:

After the 12-week study, the children receiving omega-3 fatty acids showed an improvement in hyperactivity of 2.7 according to the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.  The children receiving placebo only showed an improvement of 0.3.  However, this difference was not significantly different.

Other areas measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist also failed to show statistically significant improvements.  However, the data did show a trending toward benefit in many of those areas.

The research also demonstrated that supplementation with 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids was well-tolerated by the 14 children receiving the supplement.  The side effects reported in the omega-3 fatty acids group were similar to the side effects reported by the placebo group.

The authors state that even though no significant changes were observed due to treatment with omega-3 fatty acids, the data collected does not rule out the possibility of some benefit due to the low number of participants in this study.

The article was epublished in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in May 2011.

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Autism Research: Effect of Additional Arachidonic Acid on Communication and Social Withdrawal

Autism Research:

Autism Research Studying Effectiveness of Additional Arachidonic Acid (ARA) on Communication and Social Withdrawal
Autism Study Demonstrates Effectivenss of Additional Arachidonic Acid (ARA) in Improving Social Withdrawal and Communication

Previous research has demonstrated that arachidonic acid (ARA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are important elements in the formation and maturation of the brain network.  Additional research has shown that arachidonic acid plays a key role in the process of signaling neurons to mature.  This study attempted to demonstrate the efficacy of supplementation with additional arachidonic acid (ARA) in individuals with autism.  The findings were published in an article titled Therapeutic Effects of Larger Doses of Arachidonic Acid Added to DHA on Social Impairment and its Relation to Alterations of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that lasted 16 weeks.  An additional 16-week open-label study was performed afterward to confirm the findings.

The purpose of the research was to determine the effectiveness of additional arachidonic acid and the relationship to changes in levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).  Outcomes were measured using the Social Responsiveness Scale and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.

Arachidonic Acid Benefits:

The research demonstrated that additional arachidonic acid added to DHA resulted in significant improvements in communication as measured by the Social Responsiveness Scale.  More specifically, 87% of autistic individuals in the treatment group showed improvement compared to only 44% of autistic individuals in the placebo group.

The study also found that additional arachidonic acid resulted in significant improvements in social withdrawal as measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist.  More specifically, 88% of individuals in the treatment group showed improvement in social withdrawal compared to only 54% in the placebo group.

The study also showed a significant change in arachidonic acid (ARA) levels in the treatment group compared to levels measured at the beginning of the study.  A difference between arachidonic acid levels in the treatment group compared to the control group was found as well, although not a significant difference.

The open-label portion of the study was not sufficiently powered to show differences in communication and social withdrawal outcomes, or changes in plasma arachidonic acid levels.

The authors suggest the findings indicate that additional arachidonic acid added to DHA causes an increase in neuronal functioning, possibly resulting in the improvements seen in communication and social withdrawal.

The article was epublished in June 2011 in the Japanese Journal of Psychopharmacology.

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