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Phenylketonuria - Video

The animated videos in NORD’s Rare Disease Video Library provide brief introductions to rare disease topics for patients, caregivers, students, professionals and the public. NORD collaborates with medical experts, patient organizations, videographers and Osmosis to develop the videos, which are made possible by individual donations, educational grants and corporate sponsorships. NORD is solely responsible for the content.


General Discussion

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inborn error of metabolism that is detectable during the first days of life via routine newborn screening. PKU is characterized by absence or deficiency of an enzyme called phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), responsible for processing the amino acid phenylalanine. Amino acids are the chemical building blocks of proteins, and are essential for proper growth and development. With normal PAH activity, phenylalanine is converted to another amino acid, tyrosine. However, when PAH is absent or deficient, phenylalanine accumulates and is toxic to the brain. Without treatment, most people with PKU would develop severe intellectual disability. To prevent intellectual disability, treatment consists of a carefully controlled, phenylalanine-restricted diet beginning during the first days or weeks of life.

Synonyms of Phenylketonuria

  • classical phenylketonuria
  • hyperphenylalanemia
  • phenylalanine hydroxylase deficiency
  • phenylalaninemia
  • PKU

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