Maternal mild hyperphenylalaninaemia: an international survey of offspring outcome

H. L. Levy, S. E. Waisbren, D. Lobbregt, E. Allred, A. Leviton, A. Schuler, F. K. Trefz, S. M. Schwietzer, I. B. Sardharwalla, J. H. Walter, B. E. Barwell, C. M. Berlin

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Summary. Maternal phenylketonuria (PKU) has adverse effects on the offspring including microcephaly, mental retardation, congenital heart disease, and intrauterine growth retardation. Maternal non-PKU mild hyperphenylalaninaemia (MHP) is believed to be benign, but whether there may be long-term consequences to offspring is unclear. In an international survey we have obtained information about 86 mothers with MHP (blood phenylalanine 167-715 μmol/L), their 219 untreated pregnancies, and 173 offspring. Spontaneous fetal loss (13% of pregnancies), congenital heart disease (2·3% of offspring), and severe non-cardiac anomalies (2·9% of offspring) occurred at frequencies within expected limits for the general population. For weight and length at birth the median percentile was the 50th but that for birth head circumference was the 25th. Median z-scores for birth length and head circumference were significantly lower for offspring of mothers with phenylalanine concentrations above 400 μmol/L than for those whose mothers had lower values (p=0·05 and p=0·005, respectively). The median intelligence quotient (IQ) of the offspring (3-27 years) was 100 for those whose mothers had higher phenylalanine concentrations and 108 for those of the lower phenylalaninaemia group. However, offspring IQ correlated slightly more closely with maternal IQ (r=0·53, p<0·001) than with maternal phenylalanine concentration (r=0·45, p=0·02). Maternal MHP does not seem to have serious consequences for the fetus. A maternal phenylalanine concentration of less than 400 μmol/L does not warrant intervention. Nevertheless, maternal blood phenylalanine above this value is associated with slightly lower birth measurements and offspring IQ than lower maternal blood phenylalanine concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1589-1594
Number of pages6
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number8937
StatePublished - Dec 10 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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