We performed a retrospective study of all patients with methylmalonic acidemia diagnosed during the past 20 years. Only those patients who were nonresponsive to vitamin B12 in vivo and in vitro were included. The final study group consisted of 26 patients, of whom 16 had a neonatal (early) onset; in 10 patients the diagnosis was made after 2 months to 2.2 years (late onset). Of the early-onset patients, 14 (87%) died, with a mean survival time of 1.5 years (range, 10 days to 2.5 years), whereas four of the late-onset patients (40%) died (range, 1.2 to 15 years). At present, eight patients are alive; their mean age is 4.6 years (range, 1 to 10 years). In the early 1970s, treatment was based on the principles of treating patients with phenylketonuria: restricting natural protein intake and supplementing essential amino acids, vitamins, and trace elements. After about 1980, nasogastric tube feeding became a mainstay of the therapy, natural protein restriction became stricter, and the use of essential amino acid mixtures diminished. Carnitine was added to the therapy and, in later years, metronidazole. Since these changes were implemented, the number of episodes of metabolic decompensation and hospitalizations has decreased. Mean survival time of the patients, in particular those with early onset, has only slightly improved, partly because of psychosocial problems in many of these families. Almost all the patients, especially those with early onset, had some degree of neurologic impairment and mental retardation, and many patients were at less than 2 SD for weight or height or both. In contrast, the neurologic and mental status of the late-onset patients was frequently normal, and their weight and height were more often within normal limits. Our results show that the treatment of methylmalonic acidemia still poses considerable problems; despite intense medical efforts and familial stress, the prognosis for the early-onset patients is disappointing. The patients with late-onset disease, however, appear to have a fairly good prognosis with the present therapeutic approach. Liver transplantation or possibly genetic therapy might improve our results in the future. (J PEDIATR 1994;125:903-8).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health