This study investigated which methods patients and parents used to determine phenylalanine (Phe) intake and the relationship between the methods applied, age, and blood Phe concentration, as this practice had not been studied before in relation to metabolic control.
A questionnaire was sent to 327 Dutch phenylketonuria patients (age 0-29 years) to investigate the method used to determine Phe intake (either by estimation, exact measurement, or a combination of both). Mean blood Phe concentration of each individual patient was related to the method reported to be used. Three different age groups (= 10-15 years, and >= 16 years) were distinguished. The response rate for the questionnaires was 73%. In these 188 patients, data for both Phe concentrations and questionnaires could be used. Of these, 75 used exact measurement, 75 used estimation, and 38 used both methods. The number of patients that estimated Phe intake clearly increased with age. Whatever method was used, an increase in Phe concentrations was seen with age. During childhood, exact measurement was used more frequently, and from adolescence on estimation was used more frequently. The method (exact measurement and/or estimation) did not result in statistically different Phe concentrations in any of the three age groups, although blood Phe concentration tended to be lower in adolescence using exact measurement. Data suggest that estimation and exact measurement of Phe intake are both reliable methods. Therefore, in addition to exact measurement, patients should be instructed in both methods at an early age, so that both methods can be used adequately.