Achievements of the Foundation
Our founder Professor Michael Crawford is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London

Summary of our achievements to date

  1. Our research work has demonstrated the supreme importance of DHA for brain growth structure and function.
  2. We have established the importance of maternal nutrition, before and during pregnancy, to birthweight and gestational age.
  3. It is concluded from this work that much neurodevelopmental disorder, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and the rise in mental ill-health, could be prevented by a policy based on a food system designed to cater for the needs of brain growth, development and function, coupled with education on the science behind nutrition and health.
  4. Our studies in the Sudan have highlighted the probability that a DHA deficiency co-exists with iodine deficiency. Both can retard brain development. This has implications for the 2 billion currently at risk of iodine deficiency and the consequent brain-stunting of their children. Iodine deficiency has re-appeared in schoolgirls in the UK, which should set the alarm bells ringing.
  5. There are implications in the science discovered for the treatment of sickle cell disease, with a new approach to feeding preterm infants.
  6. Mental ill-health is now the number one burden of ill-health. It needs to be addressed by a food policy that embraces the needs of the brain, along with education and support for young women prior to conception.

Publications on omega-3, maternal and infant nutrition

(Links to publications or abstracts included where available)

Crawford, M.A. and Sinclair, A.J. (1971) Nutritional influences in the evolution of the mammalian brain. In Lipids, malnutrition and the developing brain: 267 292. Elliot, K. and Knight, J. (Eds.). A Ciba Foundation Symposium (19 21 October, 1971). Amsterdam, Elsevier. [arachidonic acid (land) and DHA (aquatic) are limiting factors for the structure of the brain and its evolution. DHA is the most limiting]

Sinclair, A.J. and Crawford, M.A. (1972) The accumulation of arachidonate and docosahexaenoate in the developing rat brain. J. Neurochem. 19: 1753 1758. [Documentation of early post-conception, accumulation of arachidonic acid and DHA in the developing brain]

Sinclair, A.J. and Crawford, M.A. (1972). The incorporation of linolenic and docosahexaenoic acid into liver and brain lipids of developing rats. FEBS Lett. 26: 127 129. [Proof of the rate limitation in synthesis of DHA for early brain development from plant products]

Fiennes, R.N.T. W., Sinclair, A.J. and Crawford, M.A. (1973) Essential fatty acid studies in primates: linolenic acid requirements of Capuchins. J. Med. Prim. 2: 155 169.[First demonstration of behavioural disorders resulting from an omega 32 deficiency in a primate]

Rivers, J.P.W., Sinclair, A.J. and Crawford, M.A. (1975). “Inability of the cat to desaturate essential fatty acids.” Nature 285: 171 173. [Further demonstration of the significance of readymade arachidonic acid and DHA]

Crawford, M.A., Hassam, A.G., Williams, G. and Whitehouse, W.L. (1976) Essential fatty acids and fetal brain growth. LANCET (i): 452 453 [Experimental data above demonstrated during human fetal development with highly specific selection and biomagnification of DHA for brain growth]

Gold Medal Award
Professsor Michael Crawford’s Gold Medal Award from the Ministry of Fisheries Wealth, Government of Oman, for contributions to the science of the brain and for advice on policy, 2009

Crawford, M.A., Hall, B., Laurance, B.M. and Munhambo, A. (1976) Milk lipids and their variability. Curr. Med. Res. Opin. 4: (suppl. 1) 33 43. [DHA and arachidonic acid are universal components of human breast milk – data from 7 countries. There is a loss of both when babies fed formula without them]

Crawford, M.A., Doyle, W. and Drury, P. (1985) Relationship between maternal and infant nutrition, the special role of fat in energy transfer. Tropical Geographical Medicine 37: 1 16.[Opening of the Dutch branch of Save the Children Fund by Queen Juliana. Evidence on the importance of maternal nutrition in pregnancy and for human milk.]

FAO/WHO Joint Expert International Consultation “The Role of Fats and Oils in Human Nutrition”. Nutrition report no 3. FAO ROME. [Confirms the requirement for the brain and recommends formula for infants follow the composition of human milk – 1976 data used as evidence]

FAO/WHO report 1994 puts numbers on requirements for arachidonic acid and DHA for infant formula. All EU companies comply. USA complies later.

Sas, M., Gellen, J.J. Tankeyoon, M., Dusitsin, N., Chalapati, Sapon, Crawford, M.A., Drury, P.J., Lenihan, T., Ayeni, O., and Pinol, A. (1986) An investigation on the influence of steroidal contraceptives on milk lipid and fatty acids in Hungary and Thailand. Contraception 33: 189 200.[IBCHN as a collaborating laboratory for WHO on human milk composition and the effect of chemical contraceptives]

Budowski, P., Leighfield, M.J. and Crawford, M.A. (1987) Nutritional encephalomalacia in the chick: an exposure of the vulnerable period for cerebellar development and the possible need for both ω6 and ω3 fatty acids. Br. J. Nutr., 58: 511 520.[Demonstration of vulnerability of the developing brain to omega 3 deficiency with a regional impact depending on time of insult. Similar pathology to intra-ventricular hemorrhage in preterm infants]

Crawford, M.A., Costeloe, K., Doyle, W., Leighfield, M.J., Lennon, E.A. and Meadows, N. (1990) Potential diagnostic value of the umbilical artery as a definition of neural fatty acid status of the fetus during its growth. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 18: 761 766. [Evidence of deficiency of arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acid in the blood of very preterm infants linked to weight at birth and head circumference]

Leaf AA, Leighfield MJ, Costeloe KL and Crawford MA. (1992) Factors affecting long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid composition of plasma choline phosphoglycerides in preterm infants. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 14: 300 308. [Follow up of the above in larger number confirming the deficits, especially after birth when the feeding regime does not replace the placenta – see Lancet paper 1976. The lower the birthweight, the earlier the birth the greater the deficit of arachidonic acid and DHA. The lower the birthweight and the earlier the birth the greater the risk of neurodevelopmental disorder including cerebral palsy]

Foundation sponsored research:

(Links to publications or abstracts included where available)

Low birthweight linked to poor maternal nutrition:
Crawford MA (1997) Health Inequality: The UK’s biggest health issue. LANCET 349: 1915.

It starts at school:
Doyle, W., Jenkins, S., Crawford, M.A., Puvandendran, K. (1994) Nutritional status of schoolchildren in an inner city area. Arch. Dis. Child. 70: 376 381. [29% of schoolgirls around 14 years old clinically deficient in iron as measured by blood ferritin – only 3% of boys. These girls will be mothers in few years’ time.].

Poor maternal nutrition linked to low birthweight:
Wynn, S.W., Wynn, A.H.A., Doyle, W. and Crawford, M.A. (1994) The association of maternal social class with maternal diet and the dimensions of babies in a population of London Women. Nutr. Health 9: 303 315.

Antioxidants and developmental disorders:
Phylactos, A., Ghebremeskel K, Costeloe, K., Leaf, A.A., Harbige, L.S. Crawford, M.A. (1994) Polyunsaturated fatty acids and anti oxidants in early development: Possible prevention of oxygen induced disorders. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 48: S2.S17-S23.

Breast feeding and omega-3:
Ghebremeskel, K., Leighfield, M., Leaf, A., Costeloe, K. and Crawford, M.A. (1995) Fatty acid composition of plasma and red cell phospholipids of preterm babies fed on breast milk and formulae. Eur. J. Pediatr. 154:46-52.
Cunnane SC, Francescutti V, Brenna JT, Crawford MA. (2000) Breast-fed infants achieve a higher rate of brain and whole body docosahexaenoate accumulation than formula-fed infants not consuming dietary docosahexaenoate. : Lipids 2000 Jan;35(1):105-111.

Pre-term babies:
Crawford, M.A., Costeloe K, Ghebremeskel K, Phylactos A., Skirvin L, Stacey F. (1997) Are deficits of arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids responsible for the neural and vascular complications of preterm babies? Am J. Clin. Nutr. 66: 1032S-1041S.

Crawford M.A., Golfetto I, Bitsanis D, Ghebremeskel K, Min Y, Moodley T, Poston L, Phylactos A, Cunnane S, Schmidt W. (2003) Arachidonic and Docosahexaenoic Acids in Protection Against Central Nervous System Damage in Preterm Infants. Lipids 38 (4), 303-315.

Maternal nutrition important before conception:
Doyle W, Crawford MA, Srivastava A, Costeloe KL (1999) Interpregnancy nutrition intervention with mothers of low-birthweight babies living in an inner city area: a feasibility study. J Human Nutrition & Dietetics, 12: 517-527.

Maternal nutrition is a risk factor for low birthweight:
Rees G Doyle W, Srivastava A, Brooke ZM, Crawford MA, Costeloe KL (2005) The nutrient intakes of mothers of low birth weight babies – a comparison of ethnic groups in East London, UK, Maternal and Child Nutrition, 1, 91–99.

Micronutrients supplementation as a prevention of pre-term babies:
Louise Brough, Gail A Rees, Michael A Crawford, R Hugh Morton and Edgar K Dorman (2010). Effect of multiple-micronutrient supplementation on maternal nutrient status
and infant birth weight and gestational age at birth in a low income, multi-ethnic population. B J Nutr, Apr 23:1-9.

Omega-3in and sickle cell anaemia:
Daak AA, Ghebremeskel K, Hassan Z, Attallah B, Azan HH, Elbashir MI, Crawford M (2012) Effect of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid supplementation in patients with sickle cell anemia: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. AJCN. First published ahead of print November 28, 2012 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.036319.

Fish oil supplements in 400 school children:
Kirby A, Woodward A, Jackson S, Wang Y, Crawford MA. (2010). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigating the effects of omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-10 years from a mainstream school population. Res Dev Disabil.31(3):718-30.

Collaborative work with The Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London:

(Links to abstracts of articles included)

R.V. Gow, A. Sumich, F. Vallee-Tourangeau, M.A. Crawford, K. Ghebremeskel, A.A. Bueno, J.R. Hibbeln, E. Taylor, and K. Rubia. (2013). Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Related to Abnormal Emotion Processing in Adolescent Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, 2013, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(6):419-29.

R.V. Gow, F. Vallee-Tourangeau, M.A. Crawford, E. Taylor, K. Ghebremeskel, A.A Bueno, J.R. Hibbeln, A. Sumich, and K. Rubia. (2013). Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Inversely Related to Callous and Unemotional Traits in Adolescent Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(6):411-8.

A.L Sumich, T. Matsudaira, B.C. Heasman, R.V. Gow, A. Ibrahimovic, K. Ghebremeskel, M. Crawford and E. Taylor. Fatty acid correlates of temperament in adolescent boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 2013, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(6):431-6.

R.V. Gow, T. Matsudaira, E. Taylor, M. Crawford, K. Ghebremeskel, A. Ibrahimovic, F. Vallée- Tourangeau, L. M. Williams, and A. Sumich. (2009). Total Red Blood Cell Concentrations of ω -3 Fatty Acids Are Associated with Emotion Elicited Neural Activity in Adolescent Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 80, (2-3): 151-6.

A. Sumich, T. Matsudaira, R.V. Gow, K. Ghebremeskel, M. Crawford, A. Ibrahimovic, and E. Taylor. (2009). Resting state electroencephalographic correlates with red cell long-chain fatty acids, memory performance and age in adolescent boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Neuropharmacology, 57, (7-8): 708-14.

Mothers living in refugee camps have low DHA in breast milk:
Nyuar KB, Min Y, Ghebremeskel K, Khalil AK, Elbashir MI, Cawford MA.(2010) Milk of northern Sudanese mothers whose traditional diet is high in carbohydrate contains low docosahexaenoic acid. Acta Paediatr.c;99(12):1824-7.

Down’s Syndrome children and red blood cell research on omega-3:
Bueno AA, Brand A, Neville MM, Lehane C, Brierley N, Crawford MA (2014)0 Erythrocyte phospholipid molecular species and fatty acids of Down syndrome children compared with non-affected siblings.Br J Nutr. 2014 Nov 24:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 25418850

A description of specific molecular species of lipids involved in neurogenesis:
Brand A, Crawford MA, Yavin E. (2010) Retailoring docosahexaenoic acid-containing phospholipid species during impaired neurogensis following omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid deprivation. J Neurochem. 114(5):1393-404.

The essentiality for DHA for brain growth, function and maintenance throughout evolution:
Crawford MA, Leigh Broadhurst C, Guest M, Nagar A, Wang Y, Ghebremeskel K, Schmidt WF (2013) A quantum theory for the irreplaceable role of docosahexaenoic acid in neural cell signaling throughout evolution Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids (PLEFA); 88(1):5-13. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2012.08.005. PMID: 23206328.