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Eur J Pediatr. 1999 Jan;158(1):46-54.

Rationale for the German recommendations for phenylalanine level control in phenylketonuria 1997.

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  • 1Fachrichtung Psychologie, Universität des Saarlandes, Im Stadtwald, Saarbrücken, Germany. p.burgard@cops.uni-sb.de


Treatment of hyperphenylalaninaemias due to phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency with a low phenylalanine (Phe) diet is highly successful in preventing neurological impairment and mental retardation. There is consensus that, for an optimal outcome, treatment should start as early as possible, and that strict blood Phe level control is of primary importance during the first years of life, but for adolescent and adult patients international treatment recommendations show a great variability. A working party of the German Working Group for Metabolic Diseases has evaluated research results on IQ data, speech development, behavioural problems, educational progress, neuropsychological results, electroencephalography, magnetic resonance imaging, and clinical neurology. Based on the actual knowledge, recommendations were formulated with regard to indication of treatment, differential diagnosis, and Phe level control during different age periods. The development of the early-and-strictly-treated patient in middle and late adulthood still remains to be investigated. Therefore, the recommendations should be regarded as provisional and subject to future research. Efficient treatment of phenylketonuria has to go beyond recommendations for blood Phe level control and must include adequate dietary training, medical as well as psychological counselling of the patient and his family, and a protocol for monitoring outcome.


Early-and-strictly-treated patients with phenylketonuria show an almost normal development. During the first 10 years treatment should aim at blood Phenylalanine levels between 40 and 240 micromol/L. After the age of 10, blood phenylalanine level control can be gradually relaxed. For reasons of possible unknown late sequelae, all patients should be followed up life-long.

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