Many children and teens who have the inattentive subtype of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience significant improvements after taking the fatty acid supplements omega 3 and 6 for several months, according to a dissertation at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
The findings also show that a special cognitive training program can improve problem behavior in children with ADHD.
For the first experiment, 75 children and adolescents with ADHD received either the fatty acids omega 3 and 6 or a placebo over three months, and then they were all given omega 3/6 for the next three months. The study was double-blind, meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether they were taking the active capsules or placebo until after the study.
“For the group as a whole, we did not see any major improvement, but in 35 percent of the children and adolescents who have the inattentive subtype of ADHD called ADD, the symptoms improved so much that we can talk about a clinically relevant improvement,” said researcher Mats Johnson, a doctoral student at the academy.
The levels of omega 3 and 6 were measured in blood samples; those who had a significant improvement in symptoms showed a better balance between the blood levels of these two fatty acids.
The dissertation also suggests that a cognitive training method called Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) can be a good alternative or complement in the treatment of ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
In this program, 17 children and their families received cognitive training and help in solving problematic situations for up to ten weeks. The families reported how much their child’s behavioral problems improved directly after the treatment as well as six months afterwards.
“Our study of CPS as a treatment for ADHD and ODD is the first in Sweden. All families in our study completed the treatment, and half of them experienced a large or very large improvement of the behavioral problems,” said Johnson.
Participants who still had severe ADHD symptoms after the CPS treatment had ended were offered the opportunity to receive supplement treatment with stimulants medication. In the follow-up six months later, 81 percent of all of the participating families experienced a large or very large improvement.
The findings suggest that CPS can help improve problematic behavior in children with ADHD and ODD, said Johnson, and that children with severe ADHD symptoms can be improved with a combination of CPS and ADHD medication.
It is estimated that three to six percent of all school age children suffer from ADHD. There are several types of ADHD in which disturbances in attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity have varying degrees of prominence.
Source: University of Gothenburg