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PKU is short for "phenylketonuria." People with PKU can't process one of the amino acids found in many foods. The amino acid, called phenylalanine or "Phe" for short, builds up in the body.1
Too much Phe is toxic to the brain and can cause many problems. In infants and children, if PKU is not treated, the resulting high Phe can cause severe mental retardation.1 Even if PKU is treated problems like brain changes, lower IQ, and behavior problems may still occur.2
Since Phe is an amino acid, there is a lot of it in high-protein foods like meat and eggs. It is also in many other foods, like bread and pasta. People with PKU have to eat a diet low in Phe. They avoid high Phe foods, and limit how much they eat of foods with less Phe.1,2
Phe-free formula and other supplements help people with PKU get the other amino acids they need to grow and be healthy.1