Thursday, 8 March 2018

Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, working memory and behavior in UK children aged 7-9: A randomized controlled trial for replication (the DOLAB II study)

Omega-3 trial fails to reproduce benefits on child reading and memory seen in earlier study

By Tim Cutcliffe 

Dietary supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA had no impact on reading, working memory or behaviour of under-performing UK schoolchildren, suggests new research that contradicts previous findings. 



 full paper is here

Abstract

Background

Omega-3 fatty acids are central to brain-development of children. Evidence from clinical trials and systematic reviews demonstrates the potential of long-chain Omega-3 supplementation for learning and behavior. However, findings are inconclusive and in need of robust replication studies since such work is lacking.

Objectives

Replication of the 2012 DOLAB 1 study findings that a dietary supplementation with the long-chain omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) had beneficial effects on the reading, working memory, and behavior of healthy schoolchildren.

Design

Parallel group, fixed-dose, randomized (minimization, 30% random element), double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (RCT).

Setting

Mainstream primary schools (n = 84) from five counties in the UK in 2012–2015.

Participants

Healthy children aged 7–9 underperforming in reading (<20th centile). 1230 invited, 376 met study criteria.

Intervention

600 mg/day DHA (from algal oil), placebo: taste/color matched corn/soybean oil; for 16 weeks.

Main outcome measures

Age-standardized measures of reading, working memory, and behavior, parent-rated and as secondary outcome teacher-rated.

Results

376 children were randomized. Reading, working memory, and behavior change scores showed no consistent differences between intervention and placebo group. Some behavioral subscales showed minor group differences.

Conclusions

This RCT did not replicate results of the earlier DOLAB 1 study on the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation with DHA for learning and behavior. Possible reasons are discussed, particularly regarding the replication of complex interventions.
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