To investigate the efficacy and safety of omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) in treating depressive disorders in children and adolescents.
We conducted a comprehensive search in electronic databases and hand-searched articles included for relevant studies. We included randomized controlled trials which studied on O3FA for treatment of children and adolescents with depression. The standard mean differences (SMDs) and the odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by a random-effects model. The primary outcomes were end-point depressive symptoms scores (efficacy) and all-cause discontinuation (safety). The secondary outcome of response rate was also assessed. Subgroup analyses were performed by age, severity of depression and dosage. Risk of bias assessment was performed based on the Jadad score and the Cochrane Collaboration's risk-of-bias method.
A total of four studies with 153 participants were included. In terms of efficacy, there was no significant difference of end-point depressive symptoms scores between O3FA and placebo (SMD = - 0.12, 95% CI - 0.53 to 0.30, P = 0.58; I <sup>2</sup>= 30%). In terms of safety, the all-cause discontinuation showed no statistical significance between O3FA and placebo (OR = 1.3, 95% CI 0.58 to 2.93, P = 0.53; I <sup>2</sup>= 0%). The response rate of O3FA was also not significant better than that of placebo (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 0.26 to 9.39, P = 0.62; I <sup>2</sup>= 71%). Besides, there were also no significant differences in those subgroup analyses outcomes. The risk of bias of included trials were not high.
Only considering the limited evidence of O3FA in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder, it did not seem to offer a clear advantage for children and adolescents.
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