FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
As this review indicates, theory and experimental evidence support the proposal that an increased intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may improve cognitive development and performance, but evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCT) still remains limited.
Existing RCT evidence suggests that any such benefits are most likely to be evident in children with pre-existing behaviour and learning difficulties - e.g. from developmental conditions such as ADHD, dyspraxia/DCD or dyslexia.
However, these kinds of diagnoses are all purely descriptive, each encompassing highly varied and overlapping populations. Furthermore, as is well-established, there are numerous different possible 'causes' of such behaviour and learning difficulties (and these may all interact) - so nutrition is only one possible factor among many; and may be of little use in isolation if other factors are not addressed.
As this careful review emphasises, further, well-designed and well-conducted trials are still needed in order to identify those children most likely to benefit from omega-3 supplementation. Future studies need to pay particular attention to formulation and dosage of supplements (which varies considerably between trials), as well as including measures of blood fatty acid status, and other biomarkers that may help predict treatment response.
For more information on this subject, see also: