LOS ANGELES, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Omega-3 supplementation could reduce disruptive, even abusive behavior in children, according to newly released research by UMass Lowell, a U.S. national research university.
"This is a promising line of research because omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve brain health in children and adults," Jill Portnoy, an assistant professor in UMass Lowell's School of Criminology and Justice Studies, said in a press release on Tuesday.
"There is more to be learned about the benefits, but if we can improve people's brain health and behavior in the process, that's a really big plus."
According to the new research, published in the scholarly journal Aggressive Behavior, giving children omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduces disruptive behavior, which in turn had a positive effect on their parents, making them less likely to argue with each other and engage in other verbal abuse.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel group trial, a community sample of children were randomized to receive either a fruit drink containing 1 gm of omega-3 fats or the same fruit drink without omega-3. Child participants, adult caregivers, and research staff were blinded to group assignment, according to the research.
The result of the study is the first to show that omega-3 supplementation in children can reduce inter-partner psychological aggression among adult caregivers not receiving supplements.
The new study is just one example of how Portnoy is studying biological and social factors that can help explain and predict impulsive and risky behavior. The goal is to help determine effective ways to intervene before anti-social behavior escalates into crime, according to the study.
"Biology and social environment interact in complex ways that we're just beginning to figure out. Before we can design effective interventions, we need to do research to understand what's happening," said Portnoy.