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Fish Oil and Children -The Durham Trials
Research has revealed that if the brain does not get enough of the right fatty acids, it will use replacement fatty acids that are not ideal and this can have a negative impact on brain function. Consequently, fatty acid deficiencies are a factor worth considering regarding learning difficulties and behavioral problems in children.
The Local Education Authority in Durham England was concerned about the growing number of children who appeared to be underachieving due to the inability to concentrate and focus on a task for any length of time and were trying to find out if they were completing the his diet with omega 3 fatty acids could make a difference.
Dozens of schools and hundreds of children have now participated in several research trials involving fatty acid supplementation through fish oil. These trials, led by Dr Madeleine Portwood, have now become known as the Durham trials and are receiving significant media attention both in the UK and abroad due to the dramatic effects that fish oil appears to have on learning and behavior in the classroom. So far, studies have been done on primary, primary and secondary school children.
The Oxford Durham Study
The largest of these trials was carried out in 2002 and involved over 100 primary school children from 12 different schools in the Durham area, all of whom had developmental coordination disorder, and some with additional related problems. to concentration and learning. This trial, known as the Oxford-Durham Trial, was carried out in collaboration with the Dyslexia Research trust based in Oxford, and Dr Alex Richardson from the University of Oxford, who is an expert on fatty acids and the brain
The children in the trial were given a daily capsule of fish oil or a placebo and as the test was double blind, no one knew which child was given what. During the week, the children were administered the supplement by the school staff. Each child was given six 500mg capsules a day from Monday to Friday, each capsule containing either fish oil or a placebo. The parents gave the children the capsules over the weekend and assessments were made regularly throughout the trial.
It can take weeks for the effect of fatty acid supplementation to show so the trial was conducted over a period of six months with half of the children taking fish oil for 6 months and the other half taking a placebo for the first 3 months and fish. oil for the second 3 months.
In the first 3 months, those on fish oil from the start showed dramatic improvements in reading, spelling and behavior with the placebo group showing similar improvements when they also started taking fish oil. fish In the original fish oil group, in the first 3 months, the average gain for reading was over 9 months and just over 6 months for spelling and they continued to see improvement beyond the first 3 months . When the placebo group switched to fish oil, they showed a reading gain of more than 12 months and more than 6 months for spelling after only 3 months on fish oil.
The results of this process have not yet been fully analyzed, but the first indications are “encouraging” and according to Dr. Madeleine Portwood, up to 40% of children have shown significant improvements.
Another Durham trial involved preschool children between the ages of 18 months and two and a half years, 47 of whom completed the trial. After 5 months, 91% of those rated as having very poor behavior at the start of the trial had improved, with only 4% classified as still having poor or very poor behavior.
Similar improvements were seen for concentration levels with 79% classified as having good or very good concentration levels after 5 months of supplementation. Language skills improved significantly compared to the control groups.
Secondary school study
This study was conducted in 2004 and focused on how fatty acids could help secondary school children with ADHD symptoms; the results were published in March 2006.
At the start of the trial, 94% were assessed as having moderate to severe ADHD and the same score for inattention, and 89% as having additional problems with impulsivity. After 3 months, ratings for ADHD and impulsivity were reduced to 28% with inattention dropping to just 17%.
The results of the Durham Project seem to validate the claim that the brain needs the right type of fatty acids to develop and function normally. The fish oil used in these trials was rich in the fatty acid Omega 3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which is thought to be the fatty acid most responsible for the efficient functioning of the brain itself.
Fish oil is quickly gaining recognition for being an effective way to not only improve brain function, but also reduce the risk of developing other health problems, so much so that the British government is considering the option of giving fish oil fish to all school children in order. to improve nutrition in general.
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