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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2003 Apr;45(4):257-61.

Plasma long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and neurodevelopment through the first 12 months of life in phenylketonuria.

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


The aims of the study were to examine the relationship between long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) status at diagnosis of phenylketonuria (PKU) and neurodevelopment through the first 12 months of life, and to assess whether any difference exists between infants breastfed and bottlefed in the first days of life on the basis of LCPUFA status. Twenty infants with PKU were prospectively examined through the first year of life. Plasma fatty acids were measured in infants at diagnosis. Plasma phenylalanine levels were determined monthly. Main outcome measures were the Bayley Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) at 5 and 12 months of age, and the visual function at 12 months, evaluated by P100 wave latencies with visual evoked potentials. A higher PDI score was associated with higher plasma arachidonic acid at diagnosis (adjusted correlation coefficient of PDI at 5 months, r=0.38, p=0.05). P100 wave latency at 15 minutes of arc (15') was associated with the early plasma arachidonic acid (adjusted r=-0.56, p=0.02) and phenylalanine levels at 12 months (adjusted r=0.22, p=0.05). No association was found between MDI score and any essential fatty acids. Breastfed infants exhibited higher plasma arachidonic acid (mean difference, delta, =3.4%; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.2-5.6%) and shorter P100 wave latency at 15' (delta=-21 ms, 95%CI=-30 to -12) than bottlefed infants. Within the population of this study, a weak positive association has been found between plasma LCPUFAs at diagnosis (higher in breastfed infants) and neurodevelopmental indices through the first year of life.

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