Taking Omega-3 every day could help children who have poor reading skills
- Children whose reading skills were in the worst performing 20 per cent improved their reading age by three weeks
- Parents said their children had fewer behavioural problems when taking fish oil
By KATHARINE BARNEY
Children with poor reading skills could have their performance boosted by taking daily supplements of fatty acids found in seafood and some algae, according to new research.
Scientists at Oxford University gave 600mg omega-3 fatty acid pills to 362 children aged seven to nine daily for 16 weeks.
Although there was no significant effect in the overall study sample, they found those whose reading skills were in the lowest fifth of the normal range improved their reading age by three weeks more that a group taking a placebo.
Brain boost: Fish oils could improve reading skills in under-performing children
And in the group of children whose initial reading skills were in the lowest 10 per cent their reading age was improved by 1.9 months.
The study was funded by DSM Nutritional Lipids which makes omega-3 supplements but carried out independently by Oxford University.
Supplements: Pupils were given pills daily for 16 weeks
Dr Alex Richardson, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Our results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group.’
Paul Montgomery, Professor of Psychosocial Intervention at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Previous studies have shown benefits from dietary supplementation with omega-3 in children with conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder, but this is the first study to show such positive results in children from the general school population.’
However, while parents said their children had fewer behavioural problems, their teachers did not report similar improvements such as less hyperactivity and 'opposition-defiant behaviour'.
And Michael Crawford at Imperial College London warned: 'People working with children, on the brain, expect the brain to be manipulated in a period of 16 weeks. It's a fundamental flaw.'
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