Dietary supplementation with ω-3 long chain fatty acids including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has increased in popularity in recent years and adequate DHA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood is of clinical importance. Some evidence has been built for the neuro-cognitive benefits of supplementation with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA during pregnancy; however, recent data indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties may be of at least equal significance.

Adequate DHA availability in the fetus/infant optimizes brain and retinal maturation in part by influencing neurotransmitter pathways. The anti-inflammatory properties of LCPUFA are largely mediated through modulation of signaling either directly through binding to receptors or through changes in lipid raft formation and receptor presentation.

Our goal is to review the current findings on DHA supplementation, specifically in pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment, as a pharmacologic agent with both preventative and therapeutic value.

Given the overall benefits of DHA, maternal and infant supplementation may improve neurological outcomes especially in vulernable populations. However, optimal composition of the supplement and dosing and treatment strategies still need to be determined to lend support for routine supplementation.