Psychosocial factors in maternal phenylketonuria: Prevention of unplanned pregnancies

S. E. Waisbren*, Shoshana Shiloh, P. St. James, H. L. Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Women with phenylketonuria (PKU) not treated prior to conception can have a pregnancy that results in serious fetal damage. In this report, factors associated with preventing unplanned (and hence late treated) pregnancies are described. Methods. Subjects included 60 phenylketonuric women and two comparison groups composed of female acquaintances and diabetic women. All were interviewed and administered tests of intelligence, general well-being, knowledge, and personality. Results. Thirty-five percent of the sexually active women with PKU used contraception only sporadically. The variables that best predicted reported frequency of birth control use were the extent to which women felt social support to use contraception (r = .64) along with positive attitudes about birth control (r = .66) and knowledge of family planning (r = .43). For the comparison groups, a different pattern of variables predicted contraceptive use, with locus of control figuring most prominently for the diabetics (r = .39) and social support for birth control being most important for the acquaintances (r = .46). Conclusions. As more girls with PKU enter childbearing ages, there will be an increased need for specific programs that address psychosocial factors in maternal PKU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychosocial factors in maternal phenylketonuria: Prevention of unplanned pregnancies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this