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Effect on intelligence of relaxing the low phenylalanine diet in phenylketonuria.
  1. I Smith,
  2. M G Beasley,
  3. A E Ades
  1. Department of Child Health, Institute of Child Health, London.


    A total of 599 children with phenylketonuria, who had been treated early, were followed up prospectively in order to examine the association between intellectual progress from 4 to 14 years of age and control of phenylalanine concentrations. The phenylalanine rose from around 400 mumol/l during the first four years to above 900 mumol/l by 12 years. The children were divided into two cohorts: cohort I comprised 224 children born in the United Kingdom between 1964 and 1971 and cohort II 375 children born between 1972 and 1978. In a previous study it was shown that by 4 years of age these children already had a mean intelligence quotient (IQ) over half a standard deviation below general population norms, and that IQ fell linearly as average phenylalanine concentrations rose. Multiple regression was used to estimate the size of the associations between IQ at later ages and average phenylalanine concentrations in the periods between assessments, after controlling for previous IQ and phenylalanine control, social class, type of phenylketonuria, and factors relating to diagnosis and early management. For each 300 mumol/l rise in average phenylalanine concentrations for those aged 5 to 8 years IQ at 8 years fell by 4-6 points. This compared with a 7-10 point fall in IQ at 4 years for a similar rise in phenylalanine. After 8 years of age the association between IQ and phenylalanine control disappeared in cohort I but persisted in cohort II and was significant up to 10 years of age, although the association was smaller than at 8 years.

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