Q:

How do you treat galactosemia?

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Quick Answer

Treatment of galactosemia involves the strict avoidance of dairy products and foods that contain the sugar galactose, according to MedlinePlus. People with this condition must pay close attention to product labels to avoid galactose, and they may need to take calcium supplements.

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Full Answer

Galactosemia is a hereditary condition in which the body's inability to process galactose leads to a buildup of the sugar in the bloodstream that can cause an enlarged liver, kidney failure, cataracts and brain damage, explains the American Liver Foundation. The condition is fatal is 75 percent of babies with the condition who do not receive treatment. Long-term complications, including learning disabilities, speech and language problems, delays in motor skills, and early ovarian failure in girls, may develop even in babies who receive a galactose-free diet from birth.

Babies do not typically display any symptoms of galactosemia at birth, but if doctors fail to recognize the condition, infants soon develop jaundice, diarrhea and vomiting, and insufficient weight gain, notes the American Liver Foundation. Children with galactosemia may also have amino acids in their urine or blood plasma, low blood sugar, and fluid in the abdomen, states MedlinePlus.

Prospective parents who are aware of galactosemia in their families can undergo genetic counseling. Doctors can also diagnose the condition prenatally by measuring the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase, advises MedlinePlus.

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