INTRODUCTION: Essential fatty acids in conjunction with neurodevelopmental interventions may contribute to positive behavioral changes in challenged children.

Methods: In an evaluation study of the HANDLE (Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment and Learning Efficiency) program, 10 boys and 10 girls aged 5-14 who were living in a Mexican orphanage were screened according to program criteria and independently ranked by caregivers for behavioral and functional difficulties. Ranking ranged from 0 (“not a problem”) to 8 (“prevents function”).

The difficulties included hyperactivity, aggression, impulsivity, emotional lability, reading and math difficulties, and social isolation, among others. Changes were then made to their diet, and activity programs designed to address the functional issues were implemented and carried out by trained caregivers for five months. At the end of the intervention, the children were screened and ranked again. Blinding was maintained in screening and data analysis.

The HANDLE program calls for both functional activities and dietary changes. The HANDLE program is based on specific neurological stimulation and structured movements, dictated by the principle of Gentle Enhancement®. The dietary changes involved making water the principal beverage (replacing a powder-based sugar drink), ensuring a daily portion of animal protein, and adding an essential fatty acid supplement.

The children were given 1 gram of ProEFA Junior [Complete Omega Junior (formally Omega-3-6-9 Junior)], a lemon-flavored blend of fish oil providing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and borage oil providing GLA (gamma linolenic acid) from Nordic Naturals, Watsonville, CA. ProEFA Junior provides 135 mg EPA, 90 mg DHA, and 33 mg GLA per gram. The supplement was well accepted by the children.

RESULTS: After 5 months, 17 of the 20 children demonstrated significant improvements as measured by decreases in the amount of interference they experienced from their identified functional and behavioral issues.

The greatest improvement in function was seen in the 2 children with the most significant problems, whose scores decreased from 59 to 12 and from 36 to 6, respectively. The 3 children who showed little improvement had very low scores at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot evaluation suggests that behavioral and basic nutritional interventions, including pure essential fatty acid supplements, may contribute to positive functional changes in challenged children.

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This study was conducted using Nordic Naturals ProEFA Junior™, Complete Omega Junior™ (formally Omega-3.6.9 Junior™).
The dose was 2-4 capsules/day.

FULL STUDY MANUSCRIPT NOT AVAILABLE. See the following website for journal article.
Adoption Today Dec-Jan 2006.