This study addresses how the timing of a known biological insult affects the developmental progression of executive functions. The sample consisted of children exposed to elevated levels of phenylalanine, either postnatally, as in phenylketonuria (PKU; n = 46), or prenatally, as in maternal PKU (n = 15). Nonhyperphenylanemic siblings of children with PKU (n = 18) served as controls. Results indicated that elevated levels of phenylalanine are toxic to the neurological systems that manage executive functions and cognitive tempo. This toxicity is dose dependent, with higher levels of phenylalanine being more detrimental. Executive function difficulties noted in PKU are consistent with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-inattentive type, whereas maternal PKU offspring had executive function difficulties consistent with ADHD-combined type.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology