Omega-3 May Lead to Improved Behavior in Children: Study

You probably already know that omega-3 fatty acid is one type of fat you don't want to cut back on, thanks to its multiple health benefits. And now there's another reason to add them to your family's diet: New research, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, has found that consuming an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acid may also lead to fewer behavioral problems in children.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania followed 200 children (aged 8-16) to determine the effects of omega-3 supplements. The children were divided into two groups: one group received regular supplements of omega-3 via a juice drink for six months, while the other group received the same drink with no added supplement. After six months, a blood test was administered to see how the two groups' omega-3 levels compared—and six months following that the study was repeated for another six months.

The parents and children were asked to complete a series of personality questionnaires and assessments. Researchers found that parents of children consuming the supplemented drink reported a decrease in their child's antisocial and aggressive behavior after the one year mark.

"The control group returned to the baseline while the omega-3 group continued to go down. In the end, we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalizing behavior and 62 percent reduction in internalizing behavior," explained the study's author Adrian Raine.

Further research is needed to determine whether the positive changes shown in the study will last over time.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Once your baby can start eating solids, be sure to introduce him to super foods. Learn about the best nutrient-packed options for your munchkin and when to introduce them.

Image: Foods high in omega-3 via Shutterstock

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