Research Article

Effect of stopping low-phenylalanine diet on intellectual progress of children with phenylketonuria.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 09 September 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:723
  1. I Smith,
  2. M E Lobascher,
  3. J E Stevenson,
  4. O H Wolff,
  5. H Schmidt,
  6. S Grubel-Kaiser,
  7. H Bickel


    Forty-seven patients at the Hospital for Sick Children, London, who had phenylketonuria and were on a low-phenylalanine diet (21 early-treated--that is, treatment started before the age of 4 months--and 26 late-treated) were placed on a normal diet between the ages of 5 and 15 years. They showed significant falls in mean IQ of about six points after the diet was withdrawn. Twenty-two similar patients (five early-treated and 17 late-treated) at the Universitäts-Kinderklinik, Heidelberg, who were placed on a relaxed low-phenylalanine rather than a normal diet, showed smaller and non-significant falls in mean IQ. During the period of strict diet none of the patients in London or Heidelberg showed any consistent falls in IQ. These results suggest that complete withdrawal of the low-phenylalanine diet during childhood leads to a fall in intellectual progress in many patients.