Who is at risk of phenylketonuria?
Your highest risk of having a child with PKU comes if you have already had a child with phenylketonuria. Unfortunately, most people don’t know they are carriers when they start having children. PKU affects people from a wide range of ethnic groups. Among people with European or Chinese ancestors, the incidence varies from about one in 10,000 to one in 15,000 live births. PKU is less common among people with an African-American or Latino background. Among people from some Arabic-speaking countries the incidence may be as high as 1 in 3,000. The incidence is lowest among people with Japanese ancestry; about one in 140,000 live births. Is there a cure? No, but the disease can be effectively managed. For newborns and infants with phenylketonuria, strict control of phenylalanine levels in their diets helps them to avoid mental retardation and seizures associated with untreated PKU. Babies with PKU are given special formulas that contain other amino acids (the building blocks of protein), bu