Food and Behaviour Research

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The association of fatty acid deficiency symptoms (FADS) with actual essential fatty acid status in cheek cells

Kirby A, Woodward A, Jackson S, Wang Y, Crawford MA (2010) Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 83(1): 1-8. Epub 2010 Mar 31. 

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Seven clinical symptoms have been utilised in several studies as a means of potentially identifying children with a deficiency in essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether there was any correlation between parental reports of the frequency of these seven 'fatty acid deficiency symptoms' (FADS) with actual levels of fatty acids in buccal cell samples of 450 children aged 8-10 years old. Additionally, the relationship between FADS and cognitive test performance, ratings of attention and behaviour and other somatic complaints were explored.

The severity of reported FADS was not related to the levels of omega-6 or omega-3 in buccal cell samples. There was a relationship between parental reports of child behaviour and reported FADS; with high FADS being related to higher ratings of behaviour problems. Using FADS as a marker of PUFA deficiency may not be appropriate especially when assessing typically developing children.