Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty acids and risk of psychotic outcomes in the ALSPAC birth cohort

Andrew Thompson*, Hannah J Jones, Jon E Heron, J Hibblen, Sarah A Sullivan, Stanley Zammit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Background: Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) levels have been implicated in the pathology of psychotic disorders. We investigated the relationship between childhood PUFA levels and later psychotic experiences (PE's) in a large birth cohort. Methods: Plasma levels of Ω-3 and Ω-6 fatty acids (FA's) were assayed at ages 7 and 16 years. PE's were assessed at ages 12 and 18 years using a semi-structured interview. Primary outcome was any PE's at 18 years; sensitivity analyses examined incident PE's between ages 12 and 18 years, persistent PE's (at 12 and 18) and psychotic disorder at 18 years. Genetic instruments for Ω-3 and Ω-6 were derived and used in a multivariable Mendelian Randomization analysis. Results: Higher levels of Ω-6 FA's AA, OA and AdA at age 7 years were weakly associated with a reduced risk for PE's at 18 years, however, effect sizes were small and attenuated after adjusting for confounders (strongest evidence for OA; adjusted OR, 0.842; 95% CI, 0.711, 0.998; p, 0.048). Total Ω-6 levels at age 16 years were associated with an increased odds of psychotic disorder at age 18 years. However, there was no association between Ω-6/Ω-3 ratio and psychosis outcomes, nor with genetic instruments of total Ω-3 or Ω-6 levels. Conclusions: There is no strong evidence that total plasma Ω-3 FA levels or Ω-6/Ω-3 ratios in childhood and mid-adolescence are associated with increased risk for PE's or psychotic disorder, but very marginal evidence that alterations in the Ω-6 pathway at developmental time points might influence risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Sep 2020

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