The transport characteristics of the placenta, which favour higher phenylalanine concentrations in the fetus than in the mother, and regression data of head circumference at birth against phenylalanine concentration at conception in maternal phenylketonuria (PKU), suggest that treatment of maternal PKU should ideally aim to maintain plasma phenylalanine concentration within the normal range throughout pregnancy. A patient with classical PKU was treated from before conception by aiming to maintain plasma phenylalanine concentration within the range 50-150 mumol/l and tyrosine within the range 60-90 mumol/l. The diet was supplemented with phenylalanine-free amino acids (100-180 g/day) and tyrosine (0-5 g/day). Plasma amino acid concentrations were monitored weekly by amino acid analyser. Dietary phenylalanine intake ranged from 6 mg/kg/day at conception to 30 mg/kg/day at delivery. Normal weight gain and fetal growth were maintained throughout the pregnancy. A normal baby was born at term with a head circumference of 35.5 cm; at 1 year of age no abnormality is detectable. These results show that with careful monitoring and compliance it is possible, and may be advisable, to maintain plasma phenylalanine concentration within the normal range in the management of PKU pregnancy.
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