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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 Mar;48(3):207-12.

A randomized trial of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in infants with phenylketonuria.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Milan Medical School, Milan, Italy.


Forty-two infants (20 males, 22 females) with classical phenylketonuria (PKU) entered a prospective, double-blind, randomized study to investigate the effects on biochemical and physiological outcomes of a phenylalanine-free infant formula containing a fat blend supplemented with the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6 n-3), and arachidonic acid (AA, C20:4 n-6). Between entry and 20 weeks (entry and 1y) of age, median DHA levels in erythrocyte membrane phospholipids decreased by 15% (22%) in the LC-PUFA supplemented group (n=21) and by 61% (64%) in the control group (p<0.001; n=18). A dietary supply of LC-PUFA in infants with PKU prevents the decline in DHA levels associated with a diet supplying minimal sources of LC-PUFA. DHA status in turn, independent of diet, may influence the maturation of the visual system in infants with PKU.

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