Dysregulated phospholipid metabolism has been proposed as an underlying biological component of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autistic disorder (AD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This review provides an overview of fatty acid and phospholipid metabolism and evidence for phospholipid dysregulation with reference to the membrane hypothesis of schizophrenia. While there is evidence that phospholipid metabolism is at least impaired in individuals with AD, it has not been established whether phospholipid metabolism is implicated in causal, mechanistic or epiphenomenological models.

More research is needed to ascertain whether breastfeeding, and specifically, the administration of colostrum or an adequate substitute can play a preventative role by supplying the neonate with essential fatty acids (EFAs) at a critical juncture in their development.

Regarding treatment, further clinical trials of EFA supplementation are essential to determine the efficacy of EFAs in reducing AD symptomatology and whether supplementation can serve as a cost-effective and readily available intervention.