Galactosemia is a rare genetic disorder that affects an individual’s ability to metabolize galactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It is typically diagnosed in infancy and requires strict dietary management. Here are key points to understand about galactosemia in children:
- Galactosemia is caused by mutations in genes involved in the metabolism of galactose, such as the GALT, GALE, or GALK1 genes.
- There are different types of galactosemia, including classic galactosemia (resulting from GALT gene mutations) and variants like Duarte galactosemia.
Lack of Enzyme Activity:
- In individuals with classic galactosemia, there is a deficiency in the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT), which is needed to break down galactose into glucose for energy.
Symptoms and Diagnosis:
- Symptoms of galactosemia may appear shortly after birth and can include:
- Poor feeding and growth.
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
- Liver enlargement.
- Newborn screening tests can detect galactosemia shortly after birth.
- The primary treatment for galactosemia is a strict, lifelong galactose-free diet, which requires avoiding all forms of milk and dairy products.
- Specialized infant formula and foods that do not contain galactose are used to meet nutritional needs.
- Compliance with the dietary restrictions is essential to prevent the buildup of toxic substances in the body.
- Without dietary management, galactosemia can lead to serious complications, including liver damage, cognitive impairment, and potentially life-threatening infections.
- Children with galactosemia require regular medical monitoring to ensure that their diet is effectively preventing galactose buildup.
- Long-term follow-up helps assess growth, development, and any potential complications.
- Genetic counseling is often recommended for families affected by galactosemia to understand the risk of having another child with the condition.
Dietary Management for Life:
- Galactosemia is a lifelong condition, and dietary management must continue throughout an individual’s life to prevent complications.
- Adolescents and adults with galactosemia must continue to adhere to the galactose-free diet.
- With strict dietary management, many individuals with galactosemia can lead healthy lives and develop normally.
- Early diagnosis and immediate dietary intervention are essential to prevent complications.
Galactosemia is a condition that requires lifelong dietary management, and strict adherence to the galactose-free diet is crucial for the well-being of affected children. Proper management can help prevent complications and allow individuals with galactosemia to lead healthy lives.