Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses in children and adolescents

Edward H. Clayton, Tanya L. Hanstock, Manohar L. Garg, Philip L. Hazell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFA) are in increasing use in the general population to treat health problems. The objective of the current article is to review the evidence for the rationale and benefit of LCn-3PUFA in the treatment of common psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Methods: A search of Psychlit, PubMed and Cochrane Databases was conducted using the terms child, adolescent, bipolar, depression, psychosis, first-episode psychosis, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, psychiatric, omega-3, n-3, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Further studies were identified from the bibliographies of published reviews. Results: One small randomized controlled trial with LCn-3PUFA supplementation in depression in children found a small beneficial effect over placebo. Four placebo-controlled trials showed uncertain benefit of LCn-3PUFA for ADHD. Single placebo-controlled trials showed no benefit in autism or bipolar disorder. There is an absence of studies examining benefit for first-episode psychosis or schizophrenia in children and adolescents. Conclusions: While children and adolescents are receiving LCn-3PUFA for a range of psychiatric indications, there is only evidence of likely benefit for unipolar depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-103
Number of pages12
JournalActa Neuropsychiatrica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD
  • Adolescents
  • Autism
  • Bipolar
  • Children
  • DHA
  • Depression
  • EPA
  • Omega-3
  • Psychiatry
  • Schizophrenia


Dive into the research topics of 'Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses in children and adolescents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this