Phenylketonuria: This Eight Year Old Needs a Special Diet

According to a story from News Nation USA, eight-year-old Lilly-Ann Woolliss of Immingham was diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU) when she was born. As a result, she must consume a diet low in protein, that in practice, often consists of fruits and veggies. She must do this in order to prevent brain damage. Her 43-year-old mother Caren Wilkie has to take special care to ensure that Lilly gets the nutrition she needs safely.

About Phenylketonuria

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a type of metabolic disorder affecting the enzyme phenylalanine, which builds up in the body and can cause serious problems. Normally, phenylalanine is broken down, but a mutation affecting the PAH gene prevents this from happening in patients with the disorder. Prompt treatment is essential to avoid major complications. Symptoms of phenylketonuria include small head size, low birth weight, an unusual musty odor, pale skin, behavioral problems, intellectual disability, heart issues, seizures, and mental disorders. All of these symptoms can be prevented with proper and timely treatment; phenylketonuria is routinely screened for in newborns for this reason. The primary management strategy is a highly controlled diet that is low in phenylalanine. Supplements may also be considered. Most patients eventually go off the diet when they reach adulthood. Some older patients may still have trouble managing the condition later in life. To learn more about phenylketonuria, click here.

Lilly’s Story

Lilly is restricted to only four grams of protein every day. For perspective, a chicken breast contains 54 grams. Caren must spend a lot of time monitoring her daughter’s diet, conducting blood tests, and precisely measuring out food weights. It’s tough on the both of them, and Caren says Lilly often isn’t invited to spend time at other friend’s houses because of how difficult it is for her to be fed by others.

Unfortunately, the girl has been bullied some at school for her unusual meals and especially her nutritional supplements, which, due to the odd smell, must be consumed from a baby bottle.

Lilly has yet to meet anyone else who deals with phenylketonuria, making her situation feel very difficult indeed. However, the girl was cheered up when she won the Unsung Hero Award From Lincs FM, a UK radio station. 

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