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Eating fish regularly may make your child smarter. Umm, really? Okay, okay. So it’s possible that this is a bit of an overstatement. But recent research from the University of Pennsylvania has found a connection between increased IQ scores, better sleep and how much fish a child consumes. The study, published in Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind to find a link between eating fish and these sought-after benefits.

Researchers looked at IQ scores from 541 9- to 11-year-old Chinese children, how much fish they eat and how their parents report their (that is the child’s and not the parent’s) sleep habits. After analyzing the data, the academics behind the study found some pretty interesting things going on.

The children who ate fish at least weekly scored 4.8 points higher on their IQ tests in comparison to the kiddos who reported either “never” or only “seldom” eating fish. The children who “sometimes” ate meals that contained fish scored 3.3 IQ points higher than the “never” and “seldom” groups.

Along with the increased IQ scores, the children who ate more fish also had better sleep patterns. Study researcher and Pennsylvania Integrates Knowledge Professor Adrian Raine said, “Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior and poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior.” Raine went on to add, “We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behavior, so it’s not too surprising that fish is behind this.”

Study author, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Jianghong Liu, noted, “Here we look at omega-3s coming from our food instead of from supplements.” This makes the study kind of ground-breaking when it comes to emerging research on what our kids eat and how it can affect them.

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