Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) found naturally in human milk.

DHA and ARA have been receiving increased attention from health care professionals and the public. Research suggests that DHA intake and status have a significant impact on visual and cognitive development in breastfed infants.

For formula-fed infants, studies have shown mixed results from DHA or DHA plus ARA supplementation.

There are several important differences among LCPUFA studies with term infants that may contribute to the differing results, including levels of LCPUFA added to the formula, variations in test methods, ages of infants evaluated, and sources of LCPUFA.

Nevertheless, several expert groups recommend that infant formulas be supplemented with DHA and ARA. Recommendations for term infants for DHA and ARA range from 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent and from 0.35 percent to 0.7 percent of the fatty acids, respectively.