Nordic Naturals, Inc., a supplier of fish oil and essential fatty acid nutritional supplements, announced the results of a successful pilot trial that showed beneficial effects of essential fatty acids (EFAs) on language and learning skills in children with autism and Asperger's syndrome. The study, completed in 2004, was conducted by Louise Patrick, a licensed speech and language pathologist, and Ronald Salik, MD at a pediatric clinic in Arizona. (A report of the pilot trial can be found in the January/February 2005 issue of Autism-Asperger's Digest.)
The 3-month open-label study provided 18 children, ranging from 3 to 10 years of age, with daily supplemental EFAs in the form of Omega-3.6.9 Juniorâ„¢, a fish oil-based EFA product from Nordic Naturals. Omega-3.6.9 Junior (also sold as Complete Omegaâ„¢ and ProEFAâ„¢) is a combination of omega-3 EFAs from purified fish oil and omega-6 EFAs from purified borage oil. The children were evaluated for increases in language ability by study investigators on day 0 and day 90 of supplementation; an adult who was familiar with the child also conducted an evaluation at day 45. Language and learning skills were assessed using the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills.
All of the children displayed significant increases in their language and learning skills after supplementation with Complete Omega. Statistical analysis, which was completed at the University of Arizona, demonstrated that the increase in scores from day 0 to day 90 in each of the 8 areas measured had high statistical significance. The investigators also noted the importance of fish oil purity and of beginning with the lowest possible dose for this population.
Ms. Patrick observed, "We feel that the impressive results of this study support the importance for design and implementation of future studies using larger sample size and placebo-controlled formats." Patrick is a clinician and researcher focusing on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Salik is the Medical Director of the Children's Emergency Center at Tucson Medical Center in Tucson.