A rare neurometabolic disorder with severe consequences, Leigh’s disease affects very young children and infants and damages the central nervous system. The symptoms manifest within a year of its onset in victims and the growing up process can become tedious for them. The ailment also takes a toll on the muscular system, and affects the brain gradually. After a time, the brain loses its capacity to regulate muscles. The function of body organs like lungs, heart and the eyes is also affected negatively. A lot of affected children succumb to respiratory failure eventually. On an average, every 1 in 40000 kids can get affected by it. It was named after a British neuropsychiatrist Archibald Denis Leigh, who described the disorder in 1951.
Source of Leigh’s Disease
This is an inherited disease. Leigh’s disease is triggered by mutations in mitochondrial DNA. The other cause can be enzyme deficiencies. It is triggered by anomalies in the mitochondria, which serves as energy centers in cells of the human body.
Major Symptoms of Leigh’s Disease
In most instances, the symptoms associated with Leigh’s disease start showing within a year of it developing in a kid’s body. In some rare cases, the symptoms manifest later in childhood. The commonplace symptoms include:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Breathing problems
- Muscle movement anomaly
- Loss of motor skills
- Loss of appetite
- Respiratory impairment
The symptoms, once detected are found to grow rapidly. The affected kids can also develop at a slower rate than usual and become more vulnerable to infections.
Treatment Options For Leigh’s Disease
Unfortunately, there is no proven remedy to treat this genetic disorder. The most widely used therapy is focused on making changes in the diet of the affected children to thwart the growth of the ailment. EPI-743- a drug that is in a clinical trial is being touted as a possible cure.
- Vitamin B1 – While resorting to a diet that is low in carbohydrate quotient and high in fat is recommended for thwarting the disease’s progress, using Vitamin B1 is what most doctors advice. This vitamin, also called thiamine, helps the body’s metabolic system and CNS to function in the desired way. However, watch should be kept on consumption of Thiamine as excess consumption can have other side effects.
- Sodium Bicarbonate – Using sodium citrate and Oral sodium bicarbonate can also be helpful to thwart progress of the ailment, as it has been observed.
Home Remedies For Treating Leigh’s Disease
You can offer a kid suffering from this ailment with foods containing good amounts of vitamin B1. Some of these foods are:
- Asparagus – While it may be difficult to make young kids gorge on vegetables, some herbs and vegetables can actually be helpful for kids afflicted with this condition. Asparagus is one of the greatest natural sources for natural vitamin B1 (thiamine). You may also feed the kid Spinach and Brussels for the same reason.
- Spices and Herbs – While serving foods with spices and herbs to kids is not advisable in general, for kids with this disorder it can be quite helpful. Serving foods made with herbs like coriander, poppy seeds, paprika and thyme can be helpful in this regard.
- Nuts – A lot of nuts in their raw form maintain an impressive amount of vitamin B1. So, you can feed a kid affected with Leigh’s disease with various types of organic nuts including pistachios, pecans, and Pine nuts. These can boost the CNS and help it to function normally.
- Fish with vitamin B1 – Some fish species like Tuna is replete with VitaminB1 and you can feed these fish to an afflicted child. Make fish soups sandwich or salad to offer to the kids.
- Peas And Mushrooms – You can make dishes with mushrooms and peas and offer them to a kid suffering from the ailment. Both the vegetable contain a good amount of thiamine as it is. They can be mixed with many other vegetables and even non vegetarian preparations.
While switching to foods replete with thiamine can help slow down progression of the ailment and bring down the severity of the symptoms that cannot stop it. However, it offers the parents an option to minimize the suffering of the kids and help him or her live in a relatively good condition.