In addition to the core symptoms, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with poor emotion regulation. There is some evidence that children and young adults with ADHD have lower omega-3 levels and that supplementation with omega-3 can improve both ADHD and affective symptoms. We therefore investigated differences between ADHD and non-ADHD children in omega-3/6 fatty acid plasma levels and the relationship between those indices and emotion-elicited event-related potentials (ERPs).

Children/adolescents with (n=31) and without ADHD (n=32) were compared in their plasma omega-3/6 indices and corresponding ERPs during an emotion processing task.

Children with ADHD had lower mean omega-3/6 and ERP abnormalities in emotion processing, independent of emotional valence relative to control children. ERP abnormalities were significantly associated with lower omega-3 levels in the ADHD group.

The findings reveal for the first time that lower omega-3 fatty acids are associated with impaired emotion processing in ADHD children.