Are PUFAs effective for ADHD?

News
Article
Contemporary PEDS JournalJuly 2024
Volume 40
Issue 06

"Parents still ask about this. Indeed, many years ago the FDA approved a prescription form of a PUFA, Vayarin, for the treatment of patients with ADHD. It is no longer available, so I assume it did not work. There may be good reasons for taking a PUFA supplement, but having ADHD is not one of them." -Jon Matthew Farber, MD

Acccording to a commentary on a Cochrane review of the efficacy of ω-3 and ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), only “low-certainty evidence” supports the notion that such supplementation is more effective than placebo for alleviating ADHD symptoms. In addition, “high-certainty evidence” indicates that PUFA supplementation does not improve core ADHD symptoms, according to the commentary authors. These findings suggest that clinicians should not recommend PUFA supplements as a standalone routine treatment for ADHD, according to the commentary authors.

The review on which the commentary was based included data from 37 randomized controlled trials in more than 2,374 children and adolescents with ADHD. Reported outcomes included ADHD symptoms, behavioral problems, quality of life, adverse effects, and loss to follow-up.

THOUGHTS FROM DR FARBER

Parents still ask about this. Indeed, many years ago the FDA approved a prescription form of a PUFA, Vayarin, for the treatment of patients with ADHD. It is no longer available, so I assume it did not work. There may be good reasons for taking a PUFA supplement, but having ADHD is not one of them.
Reference

Young VM. Are polyunsaturated fatty acids effective for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents? a Cochrane review summary with commentary. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2024;66(5):551-553. doi:10.1111/dmcn.15888

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