Food and Behaviour Research

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Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid supplements in children with autism spectrum disorder: a study protocol for a factorial randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Mazahery H, Conlon C, Beck KL, Kruger MC, Stonehouse W, Camargo CA Jr, Meyer BJ, Tsang B, Mugridge O, von Hurst PR. (2016)    

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on Pubmed.gov

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

There is strong mechanistic evidence to suggest that vitamin D and omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs), specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have the potential to significantly improve the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, there are no trials that have measured the effect of both vitamin D and n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on autism severity symptoms. The objective of this 2 × 2 factorial trial is to investigate the effect of vitamin D, n-3 LCPUFAs or a combination of both on core symptoms of ASD.

METHODS/DESIGN:

Children with ASD living in New Zealand (n = 168 children) will be randomised to one of four treatments daily: vitamin D (2000 IU), n-3 LCPUFAs (722 mg DHA), vitamin D (2000 IU) + n-3 LCPUFAs (722 mg DHA) or placebo for 12 months. All researchers, participants and their caregivers will be blinded until the data analysis is completed, and randomisation of the active/placebo capsules and allocation will be fully concealed from all mentioned parties. The primary outcome measures are the change in social-communicative functioning, sensory processing issues and problem behaviours between baseline and 12 months. A secondary outcome measure is the effect on gastrointestinal symptoms. Baseline data will be used to assess and correct basic nutritional deficiencies prior to treatment allocation. For safety measures, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D 25(OH)D and calcium will be monitored at baseline, 6 and 12 months, and weekly compliance and gastrointestinal symptom diaries will be completed by caregivers throughout the study period.

DISCUSSION:

To our knowledge there are no randomised controlled trials assessing the effects of both vitamin D and DHA supplementation on core symptoms of ASD. If it is shown that either vitamin D, DHA or both are effective, the trial would reveal a non-invasive approach to managing ASD symptoms.