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A low-protein diet is the main treatment for
phenylketonuria (PKU). This is because people who have PKU
lack an enzyme to properly process the amino acid
phenylalanine, a part of protein.
Phenylalanine is present in all protein
foods and in some nonprotein foods, such as soda pop and artificial sweeteners. PKU diets
typically do not contain high-protein foods such as:
Read food labels carefully. All foods that contain
phenylalanine should have "contains phenylalanine" on the label.
The PKU diet may result in certain nutritional deficiencies that can slow a person's growth. It is
important that everyone with PKU sees a specialist for nutritional counseling.
This is especially important for those considering pregnancy.
Teach siblings, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and friends about
the dietary restrictions. They need to understand that symptoms of the disease
will develop if the child does not follow the diet.
As your child grows, following the diet may become more difficult.
Some children may rebel against the diet, especially during the teen years, as
they gain more independence and are influenced by peers. Give your child some
control by letting him or her choose what to eat from a variety of
low-phenylalanine foods. Continue to stress the importance of staying with the
diet. Explain how straying from the diet can cause both immediate and long-term
consequences, such as lower intelligence.
September 8, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Chuck Norlin, MD, MD - Pediatrics
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