The study, “Omega-3 Treatment of Childhood Depression: A Controlled, Double-Blind Pilot Study,” conducted at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Israel), by by Dr. R. H. Belmaker, Chairman of Psychiatry, and colleagues, used the identical outcome criteria used in drug trials–reduction in score on the CDRS questionnaire. But whereas antidepressants have failed to demonstrate a benefit in controlled trials, the results in the Omerga-3 oil trial results are promising:
“Seven out of 10 children in the active treatment group and none of the children in the placebo group had a reduction in CDRS score of more than 50% (p = 0.003). Four children in the omega-3 group met criteria for remission compared with none in the placebo group. Results of CDI and CGI scores also showed significant improvements in the omega-3 group compared with the placebo group.”
The investigators, noting the epidemic prevalence in depression in recent decades, sought to exami ne the nutritional changes as possible causes for the increase.
The investigators’ report concludes: “In this article we have reviewed components of an intriguing hypothesis linking a dietary contribution to variable rates of mood disorders. There is now a clear hypothesis linking disorder diathesis and variation with an identifiable risk factor and allowing a rational treatment approach. There is great opportunity for more specific etiological and treatment intervention studies. Further research into the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and their relevance to psychiatric, cardiac, and more general health areas would benefit from fast tracking and enhancement of coordinated research endeavors.”
The finding provides one more reason to stop the irresponsible use of toxic antidepressant drugs in children.
If Omega-3 oil has no adverse effects and a possible benefit, how do U.S. clinicians justify exposing 1 in 50 children to the risk of drug-induced suicide ?
Indeed, some practitioners have begun recommendiing prescribing Omega-3 for children. For example, the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Clinic at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital in Vancouver recommends typically 1000 mg. for children.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Depressed Children May Response to Omega-3 Fatty Acids
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 21 – Treatment with omega-3 fatty acids appears to have therapeutic benefit for prepubescent children with major depression, according to the findings of a pilot study conducted by researchers in Israel.
The results of some studies in adults with major depressive disorder have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective add-on therapy.
However, the effects of this supplement in prepubescent children with major depression are unknown, Dr. R. H. Belmaker, of Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and colleagues write.
Dr. Belmaker’s group therefore conducted a controlled, double-blind trial in which 28 children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old were randomized to omega-3 fatty acids or placebo. The Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS), Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI), and Clinical Global Impression (CGI) were used to assess the subjects at baseline and throughout the 16-week trial.
Twenty children who remained in the study for at least 1 month were included in the analysis.
Seven out of 10 children in the active treatment group and none of the children in the placebo group had a reduction in CDRS score of more than 50% (p = 0.003). Four children in the omega-3 group met criteria for remission compared with none in the placebo group. Results of CDI and CGI scores also showed significant improvements in the omega-3 group compared with the placebo group.
No clinically relevant side effects were reported, according to the report in the June issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The omega-3 fatty acid used in the study was “a combination of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid that is commonly available as an over-the-counter preparation,” the researchers note.
Dr. Belmaker and colleagues conclude that the effects of omega-3 fatty acids are “highly significant.” This is the first such study, they believe, that has been conducted in children.
Am J Psychiatry 2006;163:1098-1100.
Reuters Health Information 2006. C 2006 Reuters Ltd.
American Journal of Psychiatry 163:1098-1100, June 2006 doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.6.1098
C 2006 American Psychiatric Association
Omega-3 Treatment of Childhood Depression: A Controlled, Double-Blind Pilot Study
Hanah Nemets, M.D., Boris Nemets, M.D., Alan Apter, M.D., Ziva Bracha, M.D. and R.H. Belmaker, M.D.
OBJECTIVE: Major depressive disorder in children may be more common than previously thought, and its therapeutics are unclear. Because of success in a previous study on omega-3 fatty acids in adult major depressive disorder, the authors planned a pilot study of omega-3 fatty acids in childhood major depression. METHOD: Children who entered the study were between the ages of 6 and 12. Ratings were performed at baseline and at 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks using Children’s Depression Rating Scale (CDRS), Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI), and Clinical Global Impression (CGI). Children wererandomized to omega-3 fatty acids or placebo as pharmacologic monotherapy. Twenty-eight patients were randomized, and 20 completed at least 1 month’s ratings.
RESULTS: Analysis of variance showed highly significant effects of omega-3 on symptoms using the CDRS, CDI, and CGI.
CONCLUSIONS: Omega-3 fatty acids may have therapeutic benefits in childhood depression.
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