Another great reason to feed your children fish! A new study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by Adrian Raine, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, has shown that omega-3, a fatty acid, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects on children that could lessen antisocial and aggressive behavioral problems. Omega-3 is most commonly found in fish oil.
Raine collaborated with Jill Portnoy, a graduate student studying in the Dept. of Criminology, Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the Penn School of Nursing, Tashneem Mahoomed of Mauritius’ Joint Child Health Project, and Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The focus of the study focused on neurocriminology, the relationship which exists between the environment and biology and its relation to criminal and antisocial behavior. Raine’s research seeks biological interferences to inhibit violent outbursts control impulsive behavior in children that may result in criminal actions down the line.
When Raine was a graduate student he was part of a study of children on the island of Mauritius and learned that the children who had poor nutrition at 3 years of age showed greater levels of aggressiveness and antisocial behavior in their preteen and teenage years. Some of the children in the study were part of an enrichment program and were given added nutrition (and extra 2.5 servings of fish per week) along with educational stimulation and exercise. Those children exhibited improved brain function as well as 34% less criminal actions reported by age 23.
Based on this study and others being conducted around the same time, it became evident that omega-3 is an important element in brain development and function – it regulates neurotransmitters in the brain. After a new 12 month period of study with a new group of children where some were administered omega-3, the researchers found that there was a vast improvement in the behaviors of the children given the omega-3 and the others did not fare the same. The researchers suggest that giving omega-3 as an early intervention strategy to prevent behavioral problems may benefit children for the long haul.
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By: Melissa A. Kay