Research Article| Volume 85, ISSUE 6, P317-327, December 2011

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of supplemental docosahexaenoic acid on cognitive processing speed and executive function in females of reproductive age with phenylketonuria: A pilot study

  • S.H.L. Yi
    Emory University, Nutrition & Health Sciences Program of the Graduate Division of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Atlanta, GA, United States
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  • J.A. Kable
    Emory University, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, United States
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  • M.L. Evatt
    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Atlanta, GA, United States

    Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, United States
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  • R.H. Singh
    Corresponding author at: Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, 2165 N. Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033, United States. Tel.: +1 404 778 8519; fax: +1 404 778 8562.
    Emory University, Nutrition & Health Sciences Program of the Graduate Division of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Atlanta, GA, United States

    Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, 2165 N. Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033, United States
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Published:October 17, 2011DOI:


      Low blood docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is reported in patients with phenylketonuria (PKU); however, the functional implications in adolescents and adults are unknown. This pilot study investigated the effect of supplemental DHA on cognitive performance in 33 females with PKU ages 12–47 years. Participants were randomly assigned to receive DHA (10 mg/kg/day) or placebo for 4.5 months. Performance on cognitive processing speed and executive functioning tasks was evaluated at baseline and follow up. Intention-to-treat and per protocol analyses were performed. At follow up, biomarkers of DHA status were significantly higher in the DHA-supplemented group. Performance on the cognitive tasks and reported treatment-related adverse events did not differ. While no evidence of cognitive effect was seen, a larger sample size is needed to be conclusive, which may not be feasible in this population. Supplementation was a safe and effective way to increase biomarkers of DHA status (; Identifier: NCT00892554).


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