The Children’s Hospital of Denver, Colorado had this fine article reviewed and published and thought it to be a good bit of news.
Children with coordination disorder (DCD) - which affects about 5% of school-age children - may have learning, behavior, and social difficulties that last into adulthood. Some research has suggested that nutritional deficiencies or imbalances may contribute to these disorders, so researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom studied whether supplementing kids' diets with certain fatty acids could improve symptoms of DCDs.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in certain fats and oils and are necessary for normal brain development and function. In this study, 117 5- to 12-year-old children with DCD were divided into two groups: One group took a daily food supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for 1 month; another group took a supplement containing olive oil for 1 month. After a month of not taking any supplements, the groups switched and the group taking the fatty acid supplement took the olive oil supplement and the group taking the olive oil supplement took the fatty acids for a month. After the initial 3-month study, some of the children continued to take the fatty acid supplements for an additional 3 months. Throughout the study, the children took tests to measure motor function, spelling and reading ability, and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The fatty acid supplements didn't affect a child's coordination or motor skills. However, after taking the fatty acid supplements, children experienced significant improvements in reading, spelling, and behavior. Children who continued to take the fatty acid supplements until the 6-month mark tested more than a year ahead of their previous reading level and more than 6 months ahead of their previous level of spelling. None of the kids in the study had any side effects as the result of taking the supplements.
What This Means to You: Although fatty acid supplements didn't improve coordination in children with DCD, however, the results did shown that kids with DCD in this study, the children did show improvement in reading, spelling, and behavior. If your child has DCD, your child's doctor may recommend nutritional supplements, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are also found in certain types of fish, including albacore tuna and salmon, which can be a healthy part of your child's diet.
Source: Alexandra J. Richardson, DPhil; Paul Montgomery, DPhil; Pediatrics, May 2005
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: June 2005