, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 693-705

Regression of neuropsychological deficits in early-treated phenylketonurics during adolescence

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Even early-treated phenylketonuric patients suffer from phenylalanine-associated (mild) neuropsychological impairment. To date it is still unclear whether patients' deficits show a progression on ageing. This unsolved question seems to be an important aspect in the still ongoing debate about how long and how strictly the patients should be maintained on diet. Twenty early-treated (20±10, 9–30 days) adolescent phenylketonurics (10 boys, 10 girls) and 20 healthy controls, matched for age, sex and IQ, were inves-tigated twice at a mean ages of 11 and 14 years for their IQ (Culture Fair Intelligence Test–Scale 2; CFT-20), fine motor abilities (Motor PerformanceTask), sustained (Test d2) and selective attention (Stroop-Task). At the first test, examinations revealed significant blood phenylalanine-correlated neuropsychological deficits in PKU patients. In spite of raised blood phenylalanine concentrations during the following 3 years and significantly elevated concurrent blood phenylalanine concentrations, the repeated measurements revealed a significant decrease of patients' deficits compared to controls. Clinical-neurological status of patients and controls was normal at both test times. The results indicate a decreased vulnerability of PKU-patients with respect to their neuropsychological functioning against elevated blood phenylalanine levels on ageing.