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A closer look at Galactosemia

More...Galactosemia

Galactosemia is a rare genetic disorder that can cause severe damage, even death, to children who consume milk or dairy products.

Galactosemia should not be confused with lactose intolerance, which is an allergic reaction some children get from dairy products.

Galactosemia is a condition that can cause complications such as an enlarged liver, kidney failure, cataracts, and brain damage. Diagnosis is usually made shortly after birth as a standard part of newborn screening. However, even though a restricted diet is started right away, there continues to be a high incidence of complications involving speech and language, fine and gross motor skill delays, and specific learning disabilities.

Galactosemia means too much galactose in the blood due to absence of an enzyme that converts galactose into glucose. If the galactose is converted to glucose, it is used by the body for energy. However, when the galactose isn't converted into glucose, it accumulates in the body as a poison. Galactosemia occurs in children when both the mother and the father carry the defective gene. Incidence of the disease is about one in 20,000 births.

Children with galactosemia must be prevented from consuming any milk, cheese, or milk products, including lactose additives in other foods. Parents must be careful readers of the ingredients on food, including processed foods in cans or dry packages.

Parents must also screen the child's food at school, restaurants, and at the homes of friends and family.

In addition to careful attention to the child's diet, parents usually must contend with the effects of galactosemia due to consumption of milk prior to being diagnosed and due to undiscovered consumption of milk or dairy products while growing up.

In the case of this month's feature child, Paul does not understand which foods he must not eat and why. Parents whose child has galactosemia must be vigilant in screening out any product containing lactose and they must be firm in enforcing the rule of not consuming milk or dairy products. This can be difficult when children don't understand why they can't have ice cream and the other treats that children enjoy.

If you are a Texas resident and are not approved as a foster or adoptive family, please fill out our Adoption and Foster Care Interest form in the Get Started section.

If you have questions or want to inquire about a specific child or sibling group, contact the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) or call 1-800-233-3405.

                                                                                                                                                                   
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