Serum essential fatty acids (EFA) levels were measured in 44 hyperactive children and 45 age-and-sex-matched controls at the Dept. of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Univ. of Auckland, New Zealand. Docasahexaenoic, dihomogrammalmolenic, and arachidonic acid levels were significantly lower in hyperactive children than controls. The hyperactive group of children had significantly lower birth weights than controls (3,058 and 3,410 g respectively; p < 0.01), a greater incidence of learning difficulties and dyslexia, but no increase in asthma, eczema, or other allergies. In a double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover study of evening primose oil in 31 hyperactive children, effects on behavior were modest and equivocal. [1]

COMMENT: The search for dietary related causes and treatments for hyperactive behavior continues and now involves fats in addition to food allergies, additives, preservatives, sugar and megavitamins. In support of fats, a beneficial effect of the ketogenic diet on the behavior of the epileptic child often complements its anticonvulsant properties in my experience. The present paper did not confirm previous reports of a high prevalence of allergy among hyperactive children and tends to minimize the possible importance of food allergy as an etiologic factor.