Durham Research
Using Fatty Acids for Learning Conditions


Us in the Media
Preschool Results
Primary Results
Secondary Results

Child of our Time

Millions of viewers in the UK saw the case of Eliott Best, a pupil at Timothy Hackworth Primary School in Shildon, who in October appeared on BBC1's The Human Mind. That programme showed how Eliott made remarkable progress with reading and how he found his concentration greatly improved.

Now, this research has been extended to nursery-age children in Durham in conjunction with some of the 3-year-olds involved in the BBC1 series 'Child of our Time', which is tracking the progress of 25 Millennium babies. A developmental assessment was supported by a breath-test, supplied by Pan Diagnostics, to measure change during the course of the trial.

In the programme screened on BBC1 9.00pm on Tuesday 6th January, it showed James, who was transformed from being a very difficult and excitable child to a boy that is popular with his peers and who had improved concentration to access positive learning experiences.

James was assessed for the programme by Dr Madeleine Portwood who ran the Durham Trial.

Education Staff in the County have identified many children just like James, who have difficulty complying with the demands of nursery and taking part in Group activities.

Parents, too, are concerned that their children may be identified from such an early age as being disruptive or difficult.

For many, we have evidence that these problems can be eliminated by supplementing the diet with particular essential fatty acids.

James, as the other children in our pre-school trial, used eye q liquid, a formulation of the particular fatty acids crucial for brain function. The product, which is available over the counter, was supplied by a nutraceutical firm and delivers 558 mg of EPA, 174 mg of DHA and 60 mg of GLA. We chose to use a liquid, because it provided a high amount of EPA in fish oil, citrus flavoured that was more palatable for youngsters, who can have difficulties swallowing capsules.

The inspiration for our work was our concern that a significant number of pupils underachieved because they have particular problems concentrating and remaining on the task at hand. For many, this can lead to difficulties with reading, spelling and other aspects of the curriculum. Pupils can feel isolated within their peer-group and suffer loss of self-esteem.

In 'Child of Our Time' we see that acceptance amongst peers and the ability to develop relationships is established in the Early Years. Children with behavioural problems are unpopular and social isolation at this age affects subsequent development. For some children, the answer can be simply to supplement their diet and this has been the focus of recent research in Durham LEA.

The trial strategy being pursued by the LEA has been a challenging and exciting venture, with results that we believe will give some new ideas on how we can support pupils with a range of specific learning difficulties including dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.