This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Glutaric acidemia type I (GA1) is a genetic metabolic disorder. People with GA1 don’t make enough of one of the enzymes needed to break down certain amino acids found in the proteins we eat. Without enough of the enzyme, the breakdown products of these amino acids build up in tissues of the body. The buildup of these chemicals can damage the brain, especially the area of the brain called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia helps control the body’s movements.
Without treatment, newborns with GA1 may at first not have any symptoms other than possibly having a slightly large head. Some, however, may have weak muscles and early signs of developmental delay. For most children with GA1, if untreated, an infection or fever will trigger an episode that causes serious damage to the basal ganglia. In some children, the brain damage will happen without a triggering fever. Damage to the basal ganglia will make it hard for the child to control the movements of their body. The damage cannot be reversed. However if treatment is started in a newborn with GA1 before symptoms begin, 80-90% of people with GA1 will not develop symptoms. Treatment however must be followed strictly, especially for the first six years of life. Treatment includes a low-lysine diet, carnitine supplementaion, and emergency treatment during an fever or acute episode.
For more information, visit GARD.