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Study Suggests Omega-3s Improve Behavior in Children and Adolescents


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A recent study by a medical educator at Emerson Ecologics (Manchester, NH) showed that omega-3 fatty acids could be the answer to adolescent and children behavioral problems, reported the Natural Medicine Journal.

Jaclyn Chasse, ND, also a practicing naturopathic physician in New Hampshire, completed a  double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial with a community sample of children 8 to 16 years of age. Children were given a fruit drink containing 1 g daily of omega-3 fatty acids (treatment group) or no added omega-3s (placebo), wrote Dr. Chasse in the October issue of Natural Medicine Journal noting treatment lasted for six months and participants were followed for another six months after discontinuation of treatment.

Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 supplementation for six months resulted in a 41.6% reduction in parent-rated child externalizing behavior measured six months after the treatment period had ended. A similar reduction (68.4%) was seen for internalizing behavior on the same time scale, wrote Dr. Chasse. The significance of these findings remained even when researchers controlled for parental belief in treatment allocation, which they did to remove any influence of placebo effects.

“While it does appear that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation had a clinical effect on child and adolescent externalizing behaviors, the majority of clinical improvement (as calculated by the study authors) could be attributed to a child’s response to changes in parental behavior,” wrote Dr. Chasse.

According to report, this parental behavior change was also largely attributable to a response in child’s behavior, thus indicating that the clinical benefit associated with omega-3 supplementation is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Clearly, it initiated a positive feedback loop in which the treatment was the relationship between caregiver and child. This study leaves me thinking of the sentiments of Bastyr University cofounder Bill Mitchell, ND, to ‘let people be medicine for one another’ and feeling profoundly amazed that his idea could be proven, in this instance, within the confines of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study,” wrote Dr. Chasse.

For more information, visit www.naturalmedicincejournal.com.