Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden
Journal article, 2017

Background Previous research has shown positive effects of Omega 3/6 fatty acids in children with inattention and reading difficulties. We aimed to investigate if Omega 3/6 improved reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren. Methods We performed a 3-month parallel, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial followed by 3-month active treatment for all subjects. Mainstream schoolchildren aged 9–10 years were randomized 1:1 to receive three Omega 3/6 capsules twice daily or identical placebo. Assessments were made at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. The primary outcome measure was the Logos test battery for evaluating reading abilities. The trial is registered with, number NCT02557477. Results The study enrolled 154 children (active n = 78; placebo n = 76), of whom 122 completed the first 3 months (active n = 64; placebo n = 58) and 105 completed the whole study (active/active n = 55; placebo/active n = 50). Outcomes were assessed by per protocol (PP) and intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses. Active treatment was superior to placebo at 3 months for improvement in phonologic decoding time (PP active/placebo difference −0.16; 95% CI −0.03, −0.29; effect size (ES) .44; p = .005; and ITT ES .37; p = .036), in visual analysis time (PP active/placebo difference −0.19; 95% CI −0.05, −0.33; ES .49; p = .013; and ITT ES .40; p = .01), and for boys in phonologic decoding time (PP −0.22; 95% CI −0.03, −0.41; ES .62; p = .004). Children with ADHD-RS scores above the median showed treatment benefits in visual analysis time (PP ES .8, p = .009), reading speed per word (PP ES .61, p = .008), and phonologic decoding time per word (PP ES .85, p = .006). Adverse events were rare and mild, mainly stomach pain/diarrhea (active n = 9, placebo n = 2). Conclusions Compared with placebo, 3 months of Omega 3/6 treatment improved reading ability – specifically the clinically relevant ‘phonologic decoding time’ and ‘visual analysis time’ – in mainstream schoolchildren. In particular, children with attention problems showed treatment benefits.

Omega 3/6 Reading


Mats Johnson

University of Gothenburg

Gunnar Fransson

University of Gothenburg

Sven Östlund

University of Gothenburg

Björn Areskoug

University of Gothenburg

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Christopher Gillberg

University of Gothenburg

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines

0021-9630 (ISSN) 1469-7610 (eISSN)

Vol. 58 1 83-93

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Other Medical and Health Sciences



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