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Robert Guthrie--The PKU Story: Crusade Against Mental Retardation SHIPS SEPARATELY

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Robert Guthrie--The PKU Story: Crusade Against Mental Retardation SHIPS SEPARATELY

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Robert Guthrie--The PKU Story: Crusade Against Mental Retardation

Koch shares the warm story of a man dedicated to the prevention of mental retardation. Guthrie (1916-95), an MD with a PhD in bacteriology, developed an inexpensive diagnostic technique allowing newborn screening for phenylketonuria (PKU) to become universal. The importance of this technique became clear once researchers demonstrated that the destructive effects of PKU, including certain types of mental retardation, could be arrested by restricted protein consumption. The analysis of dried blood samples collected on filter paper disks led to the early detection and treatment of a number of medical disorders in newborns, thus facilitating the prevention of devastating effects. Guthrie was willing to crusade for universal newborn screening on his own, but he also gained the support of caring practitioners around the world. Perhaps Guthrie's passion for promoting newborn screening was fueled by his son, who was a victim of untreated PKU. The son was born before PKU was identified as a hereditary enzymatic defect and effective early interventions were developed. Guthrie's story also highlights advances made in the medical community as scientists interacted professionally and personally sharing a common concern. All levels. (L. G. Worthy, Andrew College, Choice: February 1998 Vol. 35 No. 6)

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