Meta-Analysis Supports Potential of Omega-3s for ADHD

Omega-3 and ADHDAccording to a new meta-analysis of “gold standard” clinical studies, Omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements could improve symptoms and cognitive performance in adolescents and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Data taken from seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and involving over 500 youth was analyzed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines.  The data used was taken from established scientific literature databases to insure only appropriate studies were included in this meta-analysis.

Researchers found that supplementation with Omega-3 essential fatty acids significantly improved hyperactivity and inattention symptoms. Improvements in hyperactivity were only seen when doses of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) were over 500 mg/day.  Additionally data from case-control studies were also taken to determine if Omega-3 levels were associated with ADHD.  Results showed that adolescents and children with ADHD had lower levels of EPA, DHA and total Omega-3.  Improvements in certain measures of cognitive performance were also associated with Omega-3 supplementation.

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Maternal Vitamin D May Be Vital To Childhood Development

Vitamin D and Childhood DevelopmentAccording to new research preventing Vitamin D deficiencies in women who are pregnant may be important for insuring their child’s normal development.

Over 7000 mother child pairs were studied in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children a cohort study.  All pairs were accessed for Vitamin D status (serum total 25(OH)D) levels during pregnancy (for the mother) and at least one measure of child neurodevelopment: Pre-school development at six to 42 months; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire scores at age 7; IQ (Intelligence Quotient) at age 8; Reading Ability at age 9.  Additional tests assessing the child’s coordination, balancing, jumping, kicking a ball, building brick towers, were performed.

Researchers reported that the children of Vitamin D deficient mothers were more likely to have test scores in the lowest group (the bottom 25%) for pre-school developments tests (gross and fine motor development) when compared to the children of Vitamin D sufficient mothers.  Prenatal Vitamin D insufficiencies were also found to affect the social development of the children at ages 3 and ½.  No associations between maternal Vitamin D status and other outcomes at older ages like IQ or reading abilities were seen.

Researchers concluded that preventing Vitamin D deficiencies in pregnancy may be important to prevent below average development in the first four years of a child’s life.

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Prenatal Multivitamins May Provide Early Life Growth Benefits for Children

Prenatal and Growth Benefits for ChildrenA new study has found a regular prenatal multivitamin may support “normal” fat gain in infants during their first five months of life.

Data from over 600 women who participated in the Healthy Start Study was reviewed.  Daily multi-vitamin supplementation, during pre-conception and prenatal periods, was associated with a normal rate of gained fat mass (3.06%) in offspring compared with the offspring born to mothers not taking a daily multi-vitamin who experienced a greater rate of gained fat mass (3.45%).

Strong documentation regarding the benefits of prenatal supplementation for supporting potential nutrient gaps for women trying to conceive and women already pregnant have been established.  However some concerns have been offered suggesting “over-nutrition” may be detrimental to infants and increase the risks of developing metabolic syndrome and obesity in the offspring of women supplementing with a daily multi-vitamin.  This study puts those fears to rest.

Further studies are planned.

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Micronutrient Supplementation For Mothers Boosts Infant Cognitive Health

Infant CognitionA major follow up study has determined pregnant women should take more micronutrients besides iron and folic acid to increase the long-term cognitive development of their children.

The Supplementation with Multiple Micronutrients Intervention Trial (SUMMIT) lasted from 2001 – 2004.  Over 31,000 pregnant women participated in this study.  The study goals were to determine if more micronutrients during pregnancy were necessary to increasing long-term cognitive and brain development.  Half the study participants received iron and folic acid supplements (IFA) during their pregnancy and for 3 months after their babies were born.  The other half of the study participants received iron and folic acid in addition to other micronutrients like B6, zinc and iodine (MMN).

Positive effects of the MMN supplement group were seen in 487 children who were assessed for cognitive ability at the ages 3 – 5 years old.  After 10 years of age, researchers tested almost 3,000 children who were now between 9 and 12 years of age.  The MMN Group totaled 1,466 children and the IFA group had 1,413 children.  The goals of this second round of testing were to assess the long term effect of MMN supplementation on socio-emotional, cognitive and motor development in the children and to assess the effect of socio-environmental and biomedical determinants on these results.

Children born from women in the MMN group showed significant proficiency in general intellectual ability and procedural memory when compared with the children of the women in the IFA group. This is equivalent to cognitive development gained from an additional half a year of schooling.   In general the children born to mothers in the MMN group showed improvements in socio-emotional, fine motor and cognitive abilities when compared with the children of the other group.

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Omega 3 and 6 May Improve Reading for Children

Omega-3 Children's ReadingAccording to a recent study improved reading skills in mainstream schoolchildren was seen with daily supplementation with both Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids.

Over 150 schoolchildren in grade 3 (9 and 10 years of age) participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.  Participants took the Logos test (A computer based test) that measures their skills in reading in various ways, including vocabulary, ability to read nonsense works and reading speed.  The children received either an Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplement or a placebo containing palm oil.  The study lasted 6 months.  Parents, children and the researchers were unaware of which participants received the supplement and which received the placebo until the study was completed.  After an initial 3 month period all of the children began receiving the actual Omega 3 and Omega 6 supplement for an additional 3 months.

Researchers could see an improvement in the participants reading skills for the supplement group in comparison to the placebo group even after the first 3 month period.  Particularly obvious was the ability to read nonsense words aloud and phonologically decode the word so that the word was pronounced correctly.

No children who had been diagnosed with ADHD participated in this study but parents were able to identify children with milder attention problems.  These children saw even larger improvements in many tests including faster reading times.

 Further studies are needed according to researchers.

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