Oral fatty acid supplementation may improve ASD symptoms in preemies
Daily oral fatty acid (FA) supplementation appears to yield clinical improvements in parent-reported autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms in children born preterm, a recent pilot study has shown.
Researchers randomized 31 preterm toddlers (18–38 months of age) to receive daily FA supplementation, containing lemon-oil-flavoured fish and borage oils (n=15), or canola oil placebo (n=16). The trial lasted for 90 days, after which mixed-effects regression analysis was performed to assess parent-reported ASD symptoms.
Both treatment and placebo groups reported substantial 90-day improvements in most behaviour rating scales. However, after accounting for baseline scores, the FA supplement group showed significantly greater improvements in the ASD scale of the Brief Infant Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BISTEA; difference in change, –2.1 points; 95 percent CI, –4.1 to –0.2; p=0.03), with a medium to large effect magnitude (standard effect size, –0.71).
Aside from the Red Flag scale in the BISTEA, which showed a modest trend toward improvement (difference in change, –1.2 points; –2.5 to 0.1; p=0.07; effect size, –0.39), none of the other scales were significantly different between the two treatment groups.
Additionally, none of the potential covariates, such as maternal age and education, child sex, fish servings at baseline and the presence of a twin, significantly altered the trend.
There were 65 adverse events reported, 29 of which were in the treatment group while 36 were in the placebo group (the difference was nonsignificant). Majority of the events were diarrhoea, vomiting or upper respiratory infections, and none were identified as related to the treatment.