The Guthrie Test for Early Diagnosis of Phenylketonuria
The Guthrie test, also called the PKU test, is a diagnostic tool to test infants for phenylketonuria a few days after birth. To administer the Guthrie test, doctors use Guthrie cards to collect capillary blood from an infant’s heel, and the cards are saved for later testing. Robert Guthrie invented the test in 1962 in Buffalo, New York. Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a congenital birth abnormality in which toxic levels of the amino acid phenylalanine build up in the blood, a process that affects the brains in untreated infants. Guthrie’s test detects phenylalanine in the blood of newborns, enabling for early diagnosis of PKU. Early diagnoses of PKU prevent the development of mental disabilities in the thousands of individuals affected each year.