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Children's Health

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Phenylketonuria (PKU) - Topic Overview

What treatment do children with PKU need?

The main treatment for PKU is a lifelong reduced-protein diet. Problems are less likely to occur if your baby starts a PKU diet by age 3 weeks. Your baby's doctor can help you choose a formula that doesn't contain phenylalanine. You may be able to feed your baby some breast milk, but talk to your baby's doctor first. As your child gets older, a registered dietitian can help you choose the right foods and recipes.

The medicine sapropterin (Kuvan) may help lower phenylalanine levels in some children who have PKU. More studies are needed to find out the health effects from long-term use. With or without the medicine, your child still needs to follow a PKU diet.

Your child will need regular blood tests. He or she may get tested as often as once or more a week for the first year and then once or twice a month throughout childhood.

It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions when your child has an illness like PKU. You may want to join a support group. Your doctor can also help.

What treatment do adults with PKU need?

People who have PKU need to follow a reduced-protein diet throughout their lives. For a few people, treatment with sapropterin (Kuvan) may help when used with a PKU diet. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of this medicine.

You'll need regular blood tests to check your phenylalanine level. If the level builds up, it can affect your IQ and your ability to learn, think, and understand.

Any woman with PKU who is planning to have a baby needs to be very careful to control her phenylalanine levels. Babies born to mothers who have high levels of phenylalanine are at risk for having a very small head, intellectual disability, growth problems, and heart problems. Having regular blood tests and following the PKU diet before and during pregnancy can help protect the baby.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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