Nutrition-Related Problems in SMA: Low or High Blood Sugar

People with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) may experience blood sugar problems because they are vulnerable to catabolic and fasting states. A catabolic state means the body breaks down muscles to get energy because of the fasting state, predisposing these patients to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).

Why are people with SMA more prone to have blood sugar problems?

Different cases have documented secondary mitochondrial dysfunction and abnormalities in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in people with SMA. Secondary mitochondrial dysfunction may be caused by mutations in genes that encode for proteins that help produce cellular energy. This is common in many hereditary non-mitochondrial diseases.

Children with SMA type 1 are more prone to have significant abnormalities of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation, which increases their vulnerability for metabolic disorders and energy production.

Can blood sugar problems be prevented?

It is very important not to wait more than four to six hours between meals. This prevents fluctuations in blood sugar levels in SMA patients, especially during times of illness. To prevent blood sugar problems, a dietitian or nutritionist may help analyze the diet. It is important to check if daily diet intakes contain less than 30 percent fat, less than 10-20 percent protein and more than 50-60 percent carbohydrates.

If daily diet intakes are out of balance, the dietitian may suggest changes such as decreasing the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of fat and protein, or adjusting the time between feedings or meals.

SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.