Conditions + Treatments

Treatments for Galactosemia in Children

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The Metabolism Program at Boston Children's Hospital takes a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to testing for and treating children with galactosemia and other metabolic disorders.

How is galactosemia treated?


The only treatment for galactosemia is avoiding foods that contain lactose and galactose.

A physician and a dietitian who specializes in metabolic disorders can tell you what modified dietary plan your child will need to follow.

What foods should be avoided?

A person with galactosemia must avoid foods containing milk and all dairy products, such as:

  • Cow's milk
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream

Any foods or drugs which contain the following ingredients should also be avoided during infancy:

  • Casein
  • Curds
  • Whey
  • Whey solids

What foods are safe to eat?

A child can start eating solid foods at around 4 to 6 months of age. A child on a galactose-restricted diet can eat most foods containing protein, such as beef, poultry and eggs. They can also eat most types of fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Calcium supplements

Since children with galactosemia cannot consume milk products, their calcium levels may be too low. Taking calcium supplements every day will help ensure they receive enough calcium. Vitamin D supplements may be recommended in addition to calcium.

Your child's doctor will tell you what supplements to give your child and how much. Do not use any medication or supplement without checking first with the clinician on your child's medical team.


Different types of therapy can also be used to address your child's unique social, behavioral, communication and academic needs.

  • Targeted educational sessions may be employed to overcome learning difficulties in specific areas of need.
  • Physical therapy can increase mobility and muscle strength and help your child to work within his functional limitations.
  • Behavioral therapy is an important resource that focuses on managing emotional and behavioral problems. This therapy can also teach families how help a child with galactosemia cope with the anxiety and frustration of following such a restricted diet.
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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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