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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 1/2019

The natural history of classic galactosemia: lessons from the GalNet registry

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases > Ausgabe 1/2019
M. E. Rubio-Gozalbo, M. Haskovic, A. M. Bosch, B. Burnyte, A. I. Coelho, D. Cassiman, M. L. Couce, C. Dawson, D. Demirbas, T. Derks, F. Eyskens, M. T. Forga, S. Grunewald, J. Häberle, M. Hochuli, A. Hubert, H. H. Huidekoper, P. Janeiro, J. Kotzka, I. Knerr, P. Labrune, Y. E. Landau, J. G. Langendonk, D. Möslinger, D. Müller-Wieland, E. Murphy, K. Õunap, D. Ramadza, I. A. Rivera, S. Scholl-Buergi, K. M. Stepien, A. Thijs, C. Tran, R. Vara, G. Visser, R. Vos, M. de Vries, S. E. Waisbren, M. M. Welsink-Karssies, S. B. Wortmann, M. Gautschi, E. P. Treacy, G. T. Berry
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13023-019-1047-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
E. P. Treacy and G. T. Berry shared last authors.



Classic galactosemia is a rare inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism, caused by a severe deficiency of the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase (GALT). A galactose-restricted diet has proven to be very effective to treat the neonatal life-threatening manifestations and has been the cornerstone of treatment for this severe disease. However, burdensome complications occur despite a lifelong diet. For rare diseases, a patient disease specific registry is fundamental to monitor the lifespan pathology and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential therapies. In 2014, the international Galactosemias Network (GalNet) developed a web-based patient registry for this disease, the GalNet Registry. The aim was to delineate the natural history of classic galactosemia based on a large dataset of patients.


Observational data derived from 15 countries and 32 centers including 509 patients were acquired between December 2014 and July 2018.


Most affected patients experienced neonatal manifestations (79.8%) and despite following a diet developed brain impairments (85.0%), primary ovarian insufficiency (79.7%) and a diminished bone mineral density (26.5%). Newborn screening, age at onset of dietary treatment, strictness of the galactose-restricted diet, p.Gln188Arg mutation and GALT enzyme activity influenced the clinical picture. Detection by newborn screening and commencement of diet in the first week of life were associated with a more favorable outcome. A homozygous p.Gln188Arg mutation, GALT enzyme activity of ≤ 1% and strict galactose restriction were associated with a less favorable outcome.


This study describes the natural history of classic galactosemia based on the hitherto largest data set.
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