The prevalence of mood disorders in children is a growing global concern. Omega-3 fatty acids (FA) are emerging as a promising adjuvant therapy for depressive disorder (DD) in paediatric patients. The primary objective of this pilot, single-centre, randomized, double-blind controlled study was to compare the efficacy of an Omega-3 FA fish oil emulsion with a control oil emulsion alongside standard treatment for depressive symptoms in children and adolescents suffering from depressive disorder (DD) and mixed anxiety depressive disorder (MADD).
38 children (12 patients were treated and diagnosed for at least 1 month before enrolment, 26 patients were first-time diagnosed as DD) aged 11-17 years were randomised 1:1 to the intervention (Omega-3FA, 19 patients) or active comparator (Omega-6 FA, 19 patients) groups. Children's depression inventory (CDI) ratings were performed at baseline, every 2 weeks for a 12-week intervention period and at 4-week post-intervention. 35 patients (17 in Omega-3 and 18 in Omega-6 groups) who completed the whole intervention period were evaluated. Patients from Omega-3 group were stratified according to diagnosis into two subgroups (DD-10/17 and mixed anxiety depressive disorder (MADD)-7/17 patients) and in the Omega-6 group into DD-10/18 and MADD-8/18 patients. Groups were evaluated separately. Differences between-groups were tested with the Student´s t test or non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test. Two-way ANOVA with repeated measures and Friedman test were used to analyse the Treatment effect for response in CDI score. p < 0.05 was considered significant in all statistical analyses.
Significant reductions in CDI scores in 35 analysed patients who completed 12 weeks intervention were observed after 12 weeks of intervention only in the Omega-3 group (p = 0.034). After stratification to depressive disorder and mixed anxiety depressive disorder subgroups, the DD subgroup receiving the Omega-3FA fish oil showed statistically greater improvement (score reduction after 8 week treatment of -9.1 CDI, p = 0.0001) when compared to the MADD subgroup (score reduction after 8 week treatment -4.24 CDI, p = 0.271).
CDI scores were reduced in the Omega-3 group and the depression subgroup had greater improvement than the mixed depressive/anxiety group. An Omega-3 fatty acid rich fish oil emulsion may be an effective adjuvant supplement during the treatment of depressive disorders in children.

PMID: 28690672

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