Fish oil may improve behaviour of children with special educational needs

Students at a school for children with special educational needs in the UK are taking part in a study to see if taking fish oil supplements can improve their behaviour.

In what is thought to be the first such trial at a special school, the 38 boys at Eaton Hall Special School in Norwich will take the fish oil every day for six months and their behaviour will be monitored.

All the boys at the school are aged between 10 and 16 and have behavioural, social and emotional difficulties.

The children suffer from a range of conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome.

According to Lianne Quantrill, the project co-ordinator at the school, there is mounting evidence to suggest that there are benefits in taking omega 3 fish oils, particularly for those with behavioural problems who may already have fatty acid deficiencies.

Omega-3 fish oil is rich in fatty acids that help the brain send messages between cells, and has apparently been shown to improve memory, mood and concentration in previous studies.

The study by Durham County Council will also test if the fish-oil supplement could reduce the side effects of drugs already taken by some of the children, such as Ritalin, which are used to treat ADD and ADHD but can lead to decreased appetite and insomnia.

Durham County Council conducted a study last year and found that adding a combination of omega-3 fish oil and omega-6 evening primrose oil improved the behaviour of unruly children.

Omega 3 is found in oily fish such as mackerel, herring, kippers, pilchards, sardines, salmon, fresh tuna, trout and anchovies.

It is suggested the results from the trial may well affect national attitudes towards the link between dietary supplements and behaviour.

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