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J Pediatr. 2000 Oct;137(4):504-9.

Effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on fatty acid status and visual function in treated children with hyperphenylalaninemia.

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Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.



Children with phenylalanine-hydroxylase deficiency (type-I hyperphenylalaninemia, HPA) follow a low-phenylalanine diet, severely restricted in animal foods and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA). Consequently, they have a poor LCPUFA status, particularly for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is relevant to visual and neural development.


To investigate the effects of a 12-month supplementation with LCPUFA in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in treated children with HPA.


Twenty children with well-controlled HPA were randomly allocated to receive either a fat supplement (supplying 26% as fatty acids including DHA, 8%) or a placebo. The fatty acid composition of erythrocyte lipids and the visual evoked potentials were measured at baseline and after 12 months of supplementation. Reference data were obtained from healthy children of comparable age.


At baseline children with HPA had a poorer DHA status and prolonged P100 wave latencies than the reference group. At the end of the trial the LCPUFA group showed a significant increase in DHA levels of erythrocyte lipids. In the LCPUFA group P100 wave latency decreased and was negatively associated with the DHA changes.


A balanced dietary supplementation with LCPUFA in children with HPA is associated with an increase of the DHA pool and improved visual function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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