Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Omega-3 Supplementation May Reduce Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder in Children

Community-dwelling children with schizotypal personality disorder may benefit from dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, according to a report in Schizophrenia Bulletin. Schizotypal personality disorder (or “schizotypy”) is marked by symptoms of aggression and interpersonal and cognitive problems that can be precursors to schizophrenia.

“Poor nutrition has long been associated with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, including schizoid personality and schizotypal personality,” wrote Adrian Raine, D. Phil., of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues. One of the researchers’ previous studies found that providing youth with a fish-rich dietary intervention could improve brain function and reduce schizotypy symptoms. “[W]e hypothesized that omega-3 could be the active ingredient in the enrichment that reduced schizotypy.”

In the current study, 290 community-dwelling children aged 11 and 12 years were randomly assigned to receive three months of daily omega-3 supplementation alone, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) alone, or omega-3 supplementation plus CBT or were placed in a control group. All children met criteria for conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder or had higher-than-average scores on a standardized test for aggression.

The omega-3 supplement consisted of a daily 200 ml fruit-flavored drink containing 1,000 mg of various omega-3 fatty acids along with two chewable multivitamin tablets. CBT was delivered in 12 weekly one-hour sessions, supplemented with weekly home exercises. Schizotypy was assessed at baseline, and 3, 6, and 9 months after treatment using the self-report Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire-Child (SPQ-C19). It assesses three aspects of schizotypy—interpersonal factors, disorganized factors, and cognitive factors.

In the omega-3 only and omega-3 plus CBT groups, total schizotypy was reduced by 28.0% and 21.3%, respectively, by the end of treatment, and by 25.7% and 36.6%, respectively, at 3 months after treatment. Children in both groups showed greater improvement than children in the control group at 3 and 6 months, with the greatest improvements seen in children who reported higher omega-3 intake. Children receiving omega 3 plus CBT also showed statistically greater improvements than the CBT alone group at 6 months.

The strongest improvements were seen for interpersonal features, with both omega-3 groups showing sustained improvements compared with controls at 9 months.

The researchers wrote that the findings “highlight the potential for increasing efforts to both assess and recognize schizotypy in children and to consider how these children can be better supported through benign interventions that could reduce the incidence of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.”

(Image: Getty Images/iStock/LittleCityLifestylePhotography)

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