Omega-3 and intellectual capacity in infantile epilepsy


Recently, a team of investigators in Egypt explored the issue of Omega-3 and intellectual capacity in infantile epilepsy. Which is based on the premise that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids might play a role in childhood epilepsy and cognitive impairment.

It is well known that epilepsy negatively influences intellectual capacity in children, to the extent that some studies estimate up to 40% of minors affected by the disease have cognitive disorders.

Omega-6/omega-3 ratio study

In their study, published in the Spanish journal ‘Anales de Pediatría’ they explains that their intention was to calculate the omega-6/omega-3 ratio, a parameter which shows whether a person has an imbalance in consumption of the two types of fatty acids, in a group of 30 epileptic children and another 20 without the disease. Although the two types are necessary for our organism, an excess of omega-6 consumption is considered harmful if omega-3 consumption is low, as this causes more inflammation, arterial rigidity or hormone imbalances, among many other health problems.

The Egyptian scientists measured blood levels of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6), finding that children with epilepsy had lower levels of the former and higher levels of the latter compared to the healthy children, a decompensation that may also be related to intellectual capacity, as the tests performed by children with epilepsy had lower scores than the rest. These tests assessed visual processing, working memory and IQ.

The Omega-3 role in intellectual capacity in infantile epilepsy

The scientists recognised that it was difficult to explain how the three sides of the triangle are related: epilepsy, cognitive impairment, and fatty acid consumption. First of all, epilepsy is the cause of the lower intellectual capacity. Secondly, the imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 consumption contribute to worse performance in learning and memory tasks in the tests. The question is whether balancing the two types of fatty acids by improving diet or using supplements could reduce the negative impact of epilepsy on the intellectual capacity of these children. This is a question that needs answering in future research.



Bahagat KA, Elhady M, Aziz AA, Youness ER, Zakzok E. [Omega-6/omega-3 ratio and cognition in children with epilepsy]. An Pediatr (Barc). 2019 Jan 16. pii: S1695-4033(18)30544-7. doi: 10.1016/j.anpedi.2018.07.015.

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