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Fish oil helps attention deficit in children


Researchers in Adelaide, Australia have found that a commercially available dietary supplement can improve the attention and behaviour of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"The parents of children who spent 15 weeks on a course of capsules containing a combination of fish oil and primrose oil reported increased attention and reduced hyperactivity, restlessness and impulsivity," says Natalie Sinn from the University of South Australia and CSIRO Nutrition.

The same improvements were not reported from children who took a placebo.

Natalie is one of thirteen early-career researchers who have presented their work to the public and media for the first time as part of Fresh Science, a national program. One of the Fresh Scientists will win a trip to the UK courtesy of the British Council to present their work to the Royal Institution.

The work involved about 145 children with ADHD-related problems. A parallel study in the UK using the same supplement has shown similar results.

In addition, in the Australian trial, children taking the fish oil supplement also did better on tests of attention, and improved their vocabulary.

“Fish oil is believed to work via effects on brain function,” Sinn says. “Sixty per cent of the brain is composed of fats, the most important being polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats must be obtained through diet, such as dark leafy vegetables, walnuts, linseeds, and oily fish."

“There is now a growing body of research to suggest that some children with developmental problems, including ADHD and dyslexia, can benefit from taking omega-3 supplements. And no adverse effects have been reported to date.”

Niall Byrne | alfa
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