Breastfeeding follow-up in the treatment of children with phenylketonuria

J Soc Bras Fonoaudiol. 2012;24(4):386-9. doi: 10.1590/s2179-64912012000400016.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Phenylketonuria (PKU) is the inability to convert phenylalanine into tyrosine, causing toxic effects to the central nervous system. Traditionally, in the treatment of PKU, breastfeeding is replaced by formula milk. This study verified the effects of breastfeeding as a source of phenylalanine on the development of children with PKU. Participants were ten infants with PKU who started treatment with the introduction of formula before 30 days of life, and maintained breastfeeding for at least 30 days after the start of procedures. The procedures were based on estimating breast milk intake, with a safe margin of phenylalanine concentration, calculating stomach volume, and initially offering formula, then breastfeeding on free demand, at every feeding. Breastfeeding duration ranged from one month and five days to 14 months. Blood controls were tested weekly. If the serum level of phenylalanine was >2 mg/dL and <6 mg/dL, the prescription was kept; if it was >2 mg/dL, the formula was decreased by 25%, indirectly increasing breastfeeding; if it was <6 mg/dL the formula was increased by 50%. The phenylalanine levels were assessed, and the Early Milestone Scale and the Basic Steps of Development were applied. Those who had normative index in all evaluations were considered adequate. Eighty percent of infants were able to keep safe concentrations of phenylalanine and development within normal indices. Continued breastfeeding is viable in the treatment of children with PKU, provided that phenylalanine levels are strictly controlled and the effects of breastfeeding on child development are monitored.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Phenylalanine / blood*
  • Phenylketonurias / blood*
  • Phenylketonurias / diet therapy


  • Phenylalanine