Omega-3 Fatty AcidsPhenylketonuria

Using fish oil in treating phenylketonuria

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a genetic disorder that can cause brain damage and mental retardation. Treatment is a low-protein diet.

Now, we learn that fish oil supplementation in children with PKU improved their motor skills (ie, writing, tying shoes, walking and kicking).

First, the details.

  • 24 patients older than 4 years of age were evaluated before and after supplementation with fish oil for 3 months (15 mg docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]/kg body weight daily).
  • Their response was compared to 22 similar children who did not get the fish oil.

And, the results.

  • At the start of the study, patients had low omega-3 fatty acid blood levels, and poor motor skills performance compared to controls.
  • Fish oil supplementation increased omega-3 fatty acids and decreased omega-6 fatty acids.
  • The patients treated with fish oil also showed improvement in motor skills.
  • There were no serious side effects and 8 out of 10 patients reported that omega-3 treatment was well tolerated.

The bottom line?
Dr. Berthold Koletzko and colleagues from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany concluded that “Since early and continuously treated patients with PKU benefit from dietary supplementation with n-3 LC-PUFA [omega-3 fatty acids], their addition to the synthetic amino acid mixtures appears advisable.”

More info on PKU is here.

Quiz: Why is the Moby Dick photo used with this post?

7/8/07 14:12 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.