A little boy was born with a rare disorder which, although he loves baked beans, could leave him with brain damage if he has more than five a day.
Two-year-old Oliver Simpson has a rare disorder named Phenylketonuria, which means he can only have 6g of protein a day – any more could prove fatal.
Baked beans are the toddler’s favourite food but they’re pretty much off limits, as are other staples such as meat, fish, nuts, milk, eggs and even yogurt.
The condition – known as PKU – is so rare that it only affects 50,000 people globally, and it means that little Oliver is unable to even eat sweets.
His body is unable to break down phenylalanine – an amino acid found in protein-rich food. It’s also found in things like pasta and sweet potatoes, as well as meat – even a traditional Christmas dinner was totally off limits for the little lad.
If he were to have too much of the substance, his body would be unable to break it down, meaning it would simply build up in the blood – this can lead to seizures, tumours, brain damage, delayed mental development and ultimately death.
Mum Jade, 27, 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.”
She continued: “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.”
Jade is also mum to Angel Rose, six, who doesn’t have the condition.
Hailing from Kentish Town, north London, she doesn’t let Oliver go to other children’s houses for play dates as she’s worried that he could accidentally eat something beyond his usual diet. This could cause his protein levels to spike dangerously.
She added: “It’s a constant worry. He can’t have sweets with gelatine in them but lollipops and hard sweets are fine.
“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.”
Oliver was diagnosed with a ‘heel prick test’ when he was just five days old. Every baby is offered the test, part of newborn blood screening, in order to pick up any of the nine rarest but most serious health conditions.
PKU is one of them, as well as other metabolic conditions, plus things like cycstic fibrosis and sickle cell disease.