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June 26, 2007

Omega-3's May Be Helpful in Treatment of Childhood Bipolar Disorder

Omega-3 fatty acids have been gaining a lot of support as complementary treatments for many psychiatric and medical disorders. Fish oil is one of the richest sources of these omega-3's and now psychiatrists think they may be beneficial for children suffering from bipolar disorder and ADHD.

The Chicago Tribune featured an article last week discussing the great benefit this may have, especially now. There has been a great increase in diagnosis of both ADHD and bipolar disorder in children. And often times these children are prescribed several drugs originally intended for adults. Many argue against this because research has shown differences in course and presentation of pediatric or childhood bipolar disorder. On top of the differences in age groups, many drugs have can have serious side effects, and a natural supplement such as fish oil could come with less risk.

Janet Wozniak of Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, says that omega-3 supplements such as fish oil might be a feasible alternative. Though no one is suggesting that patients with bipolar disorder discontinue their medications and begin using fish oil, discussing the addition of an omega-3 supplement with your psychiatrist may be helpful. Wozniak's study was small, and more research needs to be conducted to further understand the benefits and possible risks of such a supplement in treatment for bipolar disorder. Wozniak called the results of her study "very modest", claiming that specific dosing for the most effective results still need to be examined.

"In a small, eight-week trial, Wozniak's team tested a supplement called OmegaBrite in 20 children with pediatric bipolar disease.

Fish oil naturally has about 30 percent EPA and another fatty acid called DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid. The other 70 percent is other naturally occurring fatty acids.
OmegaBrite contains 90 percent omega-3 fatty acids; 70 percent EPA - the highest EPA concentrate available in North America - 10 percent DHA and 10 percent other omega-3 fatty acids.

In the study, 10 of the 20 children experienced a 30 percent reduction in symptoms with no side effects, which showed, "manic symptoms can be rapidly reduced in youths with bipolar disorder with a safe and well-tolerated nutritional supplement," Wozniak said."

Research Article:
Omega-3 fatty acid monotherapy for pediatric bipolar disorder: a prospective open-label trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2007 May-Jun;17(6-7):440-7.

Can omega-3's treat ADD, bipolar disorder? The Chicago Tribune


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