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Low Blood DHA Levels Linked to Decreased Reading Ability and Memory Performance in Children
Date:7/10/2013

COLUMBIA, Md., July 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3s, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in particular, were associated with better reading and working memory performance, according to a new observational study conducted at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Lead researchers indicated that an increased dietary intake of omega-3s may be beneficial for healthy children aged 7 to 9 years who are underperforming in school.

The paper titled, "Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behavior: A large cross-sectional analysis from the DOLAB study," was recently published in the peer-reviewed PLOS ONE journal. The observational analysis was an independent study initiated at the University of Oxford and funded by a grant from DSM Nutritional Products.

Cross-sectional observational study

Researchers set out to explore the association between blood omega-3 levels and children's reading, working memory and behavior. The study's population included 493 healthy children aged 7 to 9 years recruited from mainstream state schools in Oxfordshire, U.K. underperforming in literacy skills, but with other abilities within the normal range.

Findings at a glance:

  • Blood samples, taken through the first-ever finger stick test administered to children in the U.K., revealed that the sample population had on average a blood fatty acid level of 1.90 percent of DHA and 0.55 percent of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) with a total of 2.46 percent combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids – this is below a minimum of 4 percent recommended by leading scientists to maintain cardiovascular health in adults, the researchers reported;
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SOURCE DSM Nutritional Products
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