JIMD Rep. 2023 Jul 25;64(5):312-316. doi: 10.1002/jmd2.12384. eCollection 2023 Sep.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism resulting from a deficiency of phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). If untreated by dietary restriction of phenylalanine intake, impaired postnatal cognitive development results from the neurotoxic effects of excessive phenylalanine (Phe). Signs and symptoms include severe intellectual disability and behavior problems with a high frequency of seizures and variable microcephaly. Maternal PKU syndrome refers to fetal damage resulting in congenital abnormalities when the mother has untreated PKU during pregnancy. Here, we report an intellectually normal 32-year-old female who presented with recurrent pregnancy loss and two neonatal deaths with congenital heart disease, microcephaly, intrauterine growth restriction, and respiratory distress. She was diagnosed with PKU through exome sequencing performed for carrier testing with a homozygous pathogenic variant in the PAH gene, c.169_171del, p.(Glu57del) that is associated with classical PKU. Consistent with the genetic finding, she had a markedly increased plasma phenylalanine concentration of 1642 μmol/L (normal <100). This case demonstrates that recurrent pregnancy loss due to untreated maternal PKU may present as an initial finding in otherwise unsuspected classical PKU and illustrates that extreme degrees of variable expressivity may occur in classical PKU. Moreover, this case illustrates the value of genomic sequencing of women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss or neonatal anomalies.