Congenital heart disease in maternal phenylketonuria: Report from the Maternal PKU Collaborative Study

H. L. Levy, P. Guldberg, F. Güttler, W. B. Hanley, R. Matalon, B. M. Rouse, F. Trefz, C. Azen, E. N. Allred, F. De La Cruz, R. Koch

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69 Scopus citations


The frequency and types of congenital heart disease in offspring from pregnancies in women with hyperphenylalaninemia were examined in the international prospective Maternal Phenylketonuria Collaborative Study. Relationships of congenital heart disease in offspring to the basal blood phenylalanine level in the mother, metabolic control through diet during pregnancy, and phenylalanine hydroxylase mutations in mother and offspring were determined. The 416 offspring from 412 maternal phenylketonuria pregnancies that produced live births and 100 offspring from the 99 control pregnancies were included in this examination. Thirty-four of the 235 offspring (14%; 95% CI, 10.2 to 19.6%) from pregnancies in phenylketonuric women with a basal phenylalanine level ≥ 900 μM (15 mg/dL) [normal blood phenylalanine < 120 μM (2 mg/dL)] and not in metabolic control [phenylalanine level ≤ 600 μM (10 mg/dL)] by the eighth gestational week had congenital heart disease compared with one control offspring (1%) with congenital heart disease. One offspring among the 50 (2%) from mothers with nonphenylketonuria mild hyperphenylalaninemia also had congenital heart disease. Coarctation of the aorta and hypoplastic left heart syndrome were overrepresented compared with expected percentages among those with congenital heart disease in the general population. A basal maternal phenylalanine level > 1800 μM (30 mg/dL) significantly increased the risk for bearing a child with congenital heart disease (p = 0.003). Phenylalanine hydroxylase mutations in the mothers and offspring did not have an independent relationship to congenital heart disease but were related through the basal maternal phenylalanine levels. The data in this study indicate that a basal maternal phenylalanine level of 900 μM may be a threshold for congenital heart disease, that women with the most severe degree of phenylketonuria are at highest risk for bearing such a child, and that prevention of the congenital heart disease requires initiation of the low phenylalanine diet before conception or early in pregnancy with metabolic control no later than the eighth gestational week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)636-642
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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