Galactosemia is a disorder which is inherited and its main characteristic is that the body is not able to process galactose, the simple sugar, which results in the accumulation of this sugar in the body thus causing the liver or kidney damage or damage of central nervous system, eyes and other systems of the body. This condition is particularly difficult for babies and small children, since they cannot tolerate any form of milk given that milk also contains lactose, which is also made up of sugar. The symptoms that a baby will develop after drinking milk are vomiting, jaundice, convulsions and irritability, while it is also possible that the level of sugar in their blood might be low. Unless the disorder is not diagnosed in time, severe consequences are possible if feeding with any kind of milk is continued and some of them are even mental retardation, partial blindness, and cirrhosis of the liver.
As far as the treatment of this enzyme disorder is concerned having in mind that it is hereditary, unfortunately there is no cure. The only possible thing to do once the diagnosis of galactosemia is set, is to stop consuming milk and products that contain milk. There are formulas for babies that are not based on milk, but are made up of milk substitutes such as soy formula or meat-base or lactose-free formula but what should also be included in the baby’s nutrition is calcium in a form of supplement. The parents should educate and inform themselves about this condition, and they should teach their child as early as possible to avoid dairies and products that contains milk as well as to read the labels very carefully. It will not be easy but the sooner they begin with the whole process, the better.
On the other side, no matter how problematic and potentially dangerous this condition might seem, people should be aware of the fact that, if it is diagnosed in time, and if galactose is strictly avoided it is possible to avoid the greatest majority of the complications and consequences, and it is possible for a person who is lactose intolerant to lead almost perfectly healthy and normal life. If one of the parents suffers from galactosemia, or if it runs in the family, genetic counseling is highly recommended, because there are certain tests that can be done during the pregnancy as well as screenings of newborns, in order to determine whether the child will have this disorder or not.