Fats in Mind : Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cognition and Behaviour in Childhood

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis was to examine possible effects of omega-3 fatty acids on children’s cognition and behavior. Longitudinal as well as cross-sectional comparisons were made among children with typical development and children with ADHD /at risk developing ADHD.The specific purposes were to examine (1) breast-feeding in relation to cognition; (2) relation between long chain poly unsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in mothers breast-milk and children´s cognition; (3) effects of EPA supplementation on cognition and behavior in children with ADHD; (4) if LCPUFAs have differential effects on working memory, inhibition, problem-solving and theory of mind (ToM).The main conclusions were as follows; (1) duration of breast-feeding was positively correlated to children levels of intelligence (IQ); (2) LCPUFAs in breast-milk was related to children’s ToM and IQ, the quotient DHA/AA, together with length of breastfeeding and gestation week explained 76% of the variance of total IQ; (3) subtypes of children with ADHD responded to EPA supplementation with significant reductions in symptoms, but there were no effects in the whole group with ADHD; (4) ToM ability was related to LCPUFAs, but not to any other cognitive measures as working memory, inhibition and problem-solving.To conclude, these results indicate that fatty acid status in breast-milk at birth affect general cognitive function in children at 6.5 years of age, including ToM. Short-term intervention with omega-3 fatty acids does not affect cognition in children with ADHD, but improves clinical symptoms as assessed by means of teacher ratings. These results further indicate that hot executive function and social cognition may be an area of interest for future research.