The Role of DHA In the First 1,000 Days

Editor(s): M. Makrides, J. Bhatia. 2 / 74

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.



Docosahexaenoic Acid

Author(s): P. C. Calder

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid that is a critical component of lipid structures. DHA plays important roles throughout the body and is essential for maintaining the structure and function of the brain and eye. Fetal development and infancy are key windows during which sufficient DHA levels are necessary for optimal mental and visual development and performance in later life.

Docosahexaenoic Acid and Preterm Birth

Author(s): M. Makrides, K, Best

Globally, early preterm birth is a leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age. Initial observations on the longer duration of pregnancies and reduced incidence of preterm birth in fish-eating communities prompted further research into the role of omega-3 (n-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in improving gestation length. The prenatal period is a vulnerable window that is highly sensitive to n-3 LCPUFA deficiency.

Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Clinical Outcomes of Preterm Infants

Author(s): A. Lapillonne, S. J. Moltu

Infants who are born prematurely have unique nutritional requirements due to their immaturity. The standard nutritional management of premature infants results in deficiencies in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Providing higher levels of DHA than routinely given is associated with better neurological and clinical outcomes.

Docosahexaenoic Acid and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes of Term Infants

Author(s): S. Meldrum, K. Simmer

Although there is ample evidence highlighting the importance of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the development and function of the central nervous system (CNS), clinical data on the effects of dietary DHA on neurocognitive outcomes remains inconclusive. Despite the existence of clear dietary intake recommendations for pregnant and lactating women, DHA levels are insufficient even across the populations of many developed countries.