What are Omega-3 fatty acids?Omega-3 fatty acids are molecules that are necessary for human health but cannot be produced by our bodies. They have to be obtained through our food. They are most commonly found in fish and some nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain function and play an important role in growth and development. There are several types of Omega-3 fatty acids, but most research indicates that EPA and DHA have better established health benefits and these types are found in fish oil rather than in nut oils.
Here are a couple of web pages that discuss the general health benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: This article defines Omega-3 fatty acids, discusses their health benefits, gives some dosing guidelines, and discusses precautions and interactions.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet: This WebMD article discusses the basics, benefits, types, food sources, and supplements.
What does Omega-3 Fish Oil supplementation have to do with Childhood Apraxia of Speech?Many parents of children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech first encounter the idea of supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids in The Late Talker book. That book devotes an entire chapter to the topic. Most of the evidence is anecdotal. Some families have seen dramatic improvement after a plateau when adding Omega-3 fish oil supplementation was the only change. Given that there is evidence of general health benefits, few drawbacks, and the possibility of helping a child communicate better, many parents choose to try it.
There is some preliminary scientific evidence that Omega-3 supplementation does help with related disorders like dyspraxia (neurological motor planning disorder of the limbs) and autism.
Here are a few resources that discuss Omega-3 supplementation and Childhood Apraxia (or related conditions).
- Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and ADHD – Can Nutrition Help?: This article is in .pdf form. It nicely summarizes some of the actual research out there on fish oil supplementation and disorders. Note that none of these studies are actually about children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. These are studies with related disorders including dyspraxia.
- Therapeutic Use of Fish Oil for Apraxia, Autism and Other Communication Impairments: This article is structured like a FAQ covering topics like dosage, brand, and tips for getting your child to take the supplement among other topics.
- Syndrome of Allergy, Apraxia, and Malabsorption: Characterization of a Neurodevelopmental Phenotype that Responds to Omega 3 and Vitamin E Supplementation: This is a research article published in the Journal of Alternative Therapies in 2009 (also a .pdf). This study was conducted with children diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. However, this research study did not have a control group, so although as a parent I am encouraged and interested, as an SLP I am still not convinced.
- Scientists Characterizes New Syndrome of Allergy, Apraxia, Malabsorption : This is a science news article about the Journal of Alternative Therapies study. It summarizes and discusses the results of the study.
- The Omega Wave This is a pretty interesting BBC news article on fish oil supplementation and learning disabilities, but it is just a news article, not a research article.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplementation for Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Review of Product Purchase and Impressions
After carefully reading the chapter in the The Late Talker book and all of the articles referenced above we decided to purchase the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega Liquid. The Nordic Naturals brand has a great reputation for quality and we wanted the product in the most concentrated form possible given that we weren’t sure how well our two year old daughter would take it. This product also has a blend of the different types of Omega-3 fatty acids and we wanted that as well in order to get the closest possible approximation to the therapeutic doses described in the book and articles.
The product is lemon flavored and does not smell or taste fishy at all. I have been very pleased with the quality of the product. I suppose you could try to give it to your child straight off a spoon or medicine dosing cup, but we’ve never tried that. If the product starts to smell or taste fishy, it has spoiled. After doing some research, we decided to store our bottle in the freezer to extend its shelf life.
We mix the Omega-3 supplement in with about two ounces of yogurt. At first we bought lemon yogurt, but when we ran out we tried random flavors and they all seem to work. We’ve also mixed it in with yogurt drinks and that has worked as well. I simply use a medicine dispenser I borrowed from an infant ibuprofen bottle to measure the right dosage and then squirt it into the yogurt. Stir and serve.