Two-year-old Oliver Simpson loves baked beans but he could be left with brain damage if he eats more than five pieces a day.
The young boy has a hereditary disorder called Phenylketonuria or PKU. This means he could only consume 6g of protein a day.
He was only 5 days old when he was diagnosed with a ‘heel prick test,’ which is offered as part of newborn blood screening to determine any of the nine rarest but serious health conditions, including PKU, sickle cell disease, and cystic fibrosis.
Even though he loves baked beans, he can’t eat more than five, as well as other staples such as eggs, milk, fish, nuts, yogurt, and meat. This also means that Oliver can’t eat sweets.
PKU is so rare that it only affects 50,000 people around the world. Oliver’s body can’t break down phenylalanine, an amino acid in protein-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes and pasta.
Consuming too much of phenylalanine can result in seizures, brain damage, tumors, delayed mental development, and worse, death.
His mother, 27-year-old Jade, said: “I have to be really strict with Oliver and his diet. He doesn’t understand, as he’s so young, but eating the wrong food could lead to brain damage, or worse.
“You’re always curious about what everyone else is eating and want to try it. But the reality is that it could make you really ill.”
Oliver’s 6-year-old sister, Angel Rose, does not have the condition.
Jade said that she doesn’t let her son go to other kids’ houses as she is worried that he could accidentally eat foods that could cause his protein levels to increase dangerously.
“It’s a constant worry. He can’t have sweets with gelatine in them but lollipops and hard sweets are fine,” she expressed.
“But I have to be strict to make sure he’s healthy. His diet is the most important thing so I monitor every morsel he eats.”
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