The Role of DHA In the First 1,000 Days

M. Makrides, J. Bhatia

Omega-3 (n-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), including eicosahexaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are dietary fats linked with health benefits along the life span of an individual. These include a role in anti-inflammatory processes, viscosity of cell membranes, fetal development, and healthy ageing. Since DHA is a key component of all cell membranes and is abundant in the brain and retina, much of the work has been focused on the perinatal period and the first 1,000 days of life. This publication focuses on-3 LCPUFAs and their evolving role in health and disease. While existing evidence for their role in the entire spectrum of the first 1,000 days is conflicting, the importance of a healthy diet including optimal amounts of these fatty acids cannot be overemphasized. Future trials need to be targeted to define subgroups of populations which may incur the most benefits while we also seek epigenetic data demonstrating the multiple benefits of LCPUFA in the human diet to improve pregnancy outcomes, infant neurodevelopment, and long-term health consequences.