How is phenylketonuria identified?
If it is diagnosed soon after birth, phenylketonuria can be successfully treated. In the UK, the heel prick test, also known as the Guthrie test, is carried out on all newborn babies shortly after birth. This is in order to identify any serious conditions, such as phenylketonuria, that may be present. The amount of phenylalanine in the blood is measured. If abnormally high levels of phenylalanine are detected and PKU is diagnosed, treatment can be started at an early age. How is phenylketonuria treated? Treatment for phenylketonuria involves eating a controlled diet that is low in protein. Therefore, someone with PKU must avoid eating foods that are high in protein, such as meat, poultry and dairy products. Instead, a diet containing an artificial protein that does not contain phenylalanine is recommended in order to lower the amount of phenylalanine that accumulates in the child’s body. This form of treatment usually works well and allows the child to grow and develop normally.