Forget phonics, hook kids on fish oil to fight dyslexia

An Oxford professor believes dyslexia is linked to omega-3 levels and their affect on hearing.

Could omega-3’s reduce a child’s likelihood of becoming dyslexic?

The predominant theory about the cause of dyslexia holds that people with the condition have trouble with phonics, being able to split words into their different sounds and match them with the letters. An Oxford scientist, however, is hooked on another theory. He believes hearing may be the key, and that a healthy level of omega-3s may be critical to helping aural nerve cells function well enough to read normally.

“In order to do phonics correctly, you’ve got to hear the order of sounds in the word very clearly,” Oxford professor John Stein told “Many dyslexics hear the sounds, but they can’t get them in the right sequence because their auditory nerve cells are not working fast enough, and we think this is because of a lack of certain omega-3 fatty acids.”

Stein believes the amount of omegas that a mother consumes while pregnant is critical to healthy development of her infant’s nervous system.

“This particular building block for the brain is absolutely vital, especially for children who have a dyslexic parent or sibling, suggesting they may be genetically vulnerable,” Stein said. “For words that contain similar sounds, you need a very acute auditory processing system to pick up on those differences, so you need nerve membranes that react fast. If the child doesn’t get enough while they’re in the womb, the membranes won’t function properly.”

Not everyone in the scientific community is on board with Stein’s theory. Some believe the issue for dyslexics is not auditory processing, but linguistics. “They believe that dyslexic children have a problem with language per se,” said Stein. “To me, there’s no such thing as language per se. Your language abilities piggyback on your auditory processing abilities.”

A previous Oxford University study found that the levels of DHA in children’s blood, “significantly predicted” how well they were able to concentrate and learn.


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