An Australian study will investigate the relationship of omega-3 fatty acids on the brain function of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As current scientific opinion is mixed on the benefits of the fatty acids the new study is designed to analyze the effects of omega-3s on cognition as well as behavior.

The trial, being conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, will study the effects of these fatty acids on the learning skills, attention span, memory, reaction time and behavior of 150 children with ADHD over 12 weeks. The effects will also be explored in 100 children without ADHD.

Omega-3 for ADHD?Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, particularly fish. There is increasing evidence that a lack of these acids may be associated with developmental problems like ADHD – a common mental health problem which affects around 12 percent of Australian children.

Researcher Dr Alex Collie says “ADHD is such a common disorder in Australia. This study will be an important step in validating claims that omega-3 fatty acids have a direct affect on cognition as well as behavior.”

Currently, the most commonly prescribed treatment for ADHD is stimulant medication. However in recent years parents have sought alternative treatments and researchers have noticed an increase in the use of omega-3 fatty acids.

Children taking part in the study will complete learning and behavior tests in the first, fourth and 12th week of the study. During this time they will be given dietary supplements of either omega-3 fatty acids or placebo (supplements with no active ingredient). The childrens parents and teachers will also participate, monitoring and rating the childrens’ behavior.

Source: Research Australia