Common Metabolic Disorders – Dr. Norman Swan

The most common metabolic disorder in Australia is diabetes. So essentially it’s a failure of metabolism of blood sugar.

Type one diabetes is a common metabolic disorder in the pancreas, which is where the insulin is made. There is an auto-immune disease which attacks the cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin, and you don’t produce insulin at all.

The much more common metabolic disorder is type two diabetes. Where your body resists the action of insulin and therefore your blood sugar goes up. You get all sorts of metabolic effects because your insulin goes up as well because it tries to work harder, and that causes very complicated metabolic disorders in the body. There are all sorts of other common metabolic disorders. You could call heart disease a common metabolic disorder of cholesterol metabolism. So there are all sorts of metabolic problems.

And then in young babies. In newborn babies, there are very, very rare metabolic disorder because they lack maybe what’s called an enzyme, a chemical in the chain of how you metabolise protein or carbohydrate or other things. And they can be very profound problems, which can cause intellectual delay and even premature death in these babies. Very, very rare.

But increasingly there are medications for some of the commoner of these rare problems.

Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist

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