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Jerry Vockley M.D. Ph.D. Chief of Medical Genetics Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg Heather Ricca- PKU Adult. Advancing Treatment of PKU & Transition to Adulthood. Phe Level and IQ. Wiaisbren , et al , MGM, 92:63 (2007). Continued Diet = Better Outcome.

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Jerry Vockley M.D. Ph.D.Chief of Medical GeneticsChildren’s Hospital of Pittsburg Heather Ricca- PKU Adult

Advancing Treatment of PKU & Transition to Adulthood

phe level and iq
Phe Level and IQ

Wiaisbren,et al, MGM, 92:63 (2007)

continued diet better outcome
Continued Diet = Better Outcome

*Two highest socioeconomic classes in the Hollingshed classification system

Koch et al 2002

risks in pku
Risks in PKU
  • Blood Phe and IQ are correlated
  • Variability in Blood Phe is important

Gassio et al2005

Koch et al 1984

executive function deficits

P < 0.001

P < 0.001

Executive Function Deficits

Based on Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) GEC score

Anderson et al 2002

deficits may worsen with time







Summary Memory Score


















Age (years)

Deficits May Worsen with Time

White et al 2001

Araujo et al 2009 Diamond et al 1997 Van Zutphen et al 2007

Channon et al 2004 Huijbregts et al 2002 White et al 2001, 2002

dietary compliance
Dietary Compliance

Percent on Diet


Walter et al, Lancet, 360:55 (2002)

  • My name is Heather Ricca. I am 27 years old with classical PKU.
  • Originally from Farmington Hills, MI
  • Now living in Plainfield, IL
  • 5th Grade Teacher
  • Member of PKU Organization of IL where my

husband David is the President this year.

  • Topics for today:
  • First steps in beginning to


  • Strategies to help manage PKU


  • Tools to help your daily PKU Routine
my transition experience
My Transition Experience:
  • Having had little control of my PKU in high school, my parents came to the decision that before college, I needed to take on more responsibility, in order to be independent. There were warning signs for them in knowing I needed help!
  • (I had migraines, mood swings, huge test anxiety, and frequent stress).
  • My parents took the first steps in lovingly helping me gain independence!

Ultimately, it was meeting David (my husband) in college that truly motivated me to be independent as we made plans for the future!

transitioning part 2
Transitioning- Part 2
  • My parent’s strategies:
  • One step at a time- first taking my own blood, then meal planning with my mom, shopping with them, ordering my own formula
  • Encouragement and Accountability- bringing me PKU food while visiting me, helping me plan once a month to do a phe level
  • Recognizing the Difference- My parents made sure they talked to me about the positive differences they saw in me as I began to take hold of my PKU. They encouraged me by pointing out my attitude and demeanor, being less stressed and being more organized. This gave me huge confidence!
teen transition
Teen Transition

You are here!

start early
Start Early
  • Before it is even viewed as an issue by the child
  • < Age 12
  • Be flexible
clinic visits
Clinic Visits
  • See child independently first
  • Follow by joint meeting with parents
transitioning to a new team
Transitioning to a New Team
  • Transfer care records
  • Opportunity to meet the new care providers
teen transition program
Teen Transition Program
  • Based on Christine TrahmsTeen Program
  • Teaching Modules (4 year curriculum)
    • 1. The process of transition
    • 2. Eating for your brain
    • 3. Making decisions and solving problems
    • 4. Genetics and reproduction
    • 5. Neuropsychological testing
    • 6. Taking charge of your medical care
    • 7-8. Finalizing Transition
additional pieces
Additional Pieces
  • Multiple contact modalities
    • Social media
    • Face to face (clinic visits)
    • Phone
  • Incorporate Phe meter use
many paths
Many Paths!

You are here!

first steps
First Steps…
  • Once you make the choice to take control of your diet and management, it is important to realize that full control will not be a quick or an overnight process.
  • -Start with one goal/one step (see what kind of levels you are working with)
    • Blood Levels
    • Taking control of food
    • Finding someone to keep you accountable
  • Establish a good formula regimen:
    • Try all the options and see what works for you.
    • Try to drink formula several times per day to fill you more.
    • See if you can add some variety in your daily formula
    • My Day: Bettermilk- Breakfast, Latte with Phen. Ade 40 – Lunch and Camino Pro- dinner
establishing a routine
Establishing a Routine
  • Getting a Routine= Planning Ahead
  • Pre-measure food, snacks, and formula- take about 20 minutes at the beginning of the week to put food aside in bags and containers, etc.
  • Make a meal plan for the week
  • Plan a grocery list that corresponds with your meal plan (saves money too)
strategies for independence
Strategies for Independence
  • High School, College, Living on Your Own
    • Start to Plan Ahead- Planning ahead is your best way to manage your diet. It keeps you organized and allows you to stick to low protein meals.
    • Advocate for Yourself- If I could have done one thing differently, I would have brought low protein food to college with me! Schools, restaurants, and public places are very willing to meet medical needs!
    • Make PKU Management a positive mindset- it will keep you healthy and with the right amount of work, PKU will not limit what you can do on a day to day basis!
summing it up
Summing it Up…
  • It is very important to comply with diet and PKU management
  • Your quality of life and daily functioning are greatly improved by managing your PKU on a daily basis
  • Independence can be achieved with time, preparation, and support from others
  • Start with small goals and know that it will not happen over night…ONE step at a time!
  • Questions? Both of us would be happy to talk with you and help answer your questions or give support!