The incidence of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, which include autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders, and apraxia, are increasing worldwide and have a profound effect on the behaviors, cognitive skills, mood, and self-esteem of these children. Although the etiologies of these disorders are unclear, they often accompany genetic and biochemical abnormalities resulting in cognitive and communication difficulties. Because cognitive and neural development require essential fatty acids (particularly long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids often lacking in mother's and children's diets) during critical growth periods, the potential behavior-modifying effects of these fatty acids as "brain nutrients" has attracted considerable attention. Additionally, there is compelling evidence for increased oxidative stress, altered antioxidant defenses, and neuroinflammation in these children. The purpose of this review is to provide a scientific rationale based on cellular, experimental animal model, observational, and clinical intervention studies for incorporating the combination of ω-3 fatty acids and tocotrienol-rich vitamin E as complementary nutritional therapies in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Should this nutritional combination correct key clinical or biochemical outcomes and/or improve behavioral patterns, it would provide a safe, complementary option for these children.
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