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Is There a Galactosemia Test?

You know that Galactosemia is a condition wherein the body is unable to process the sugar galactose. This sugar is found in dairy, making it a kind of lactose intolerance. It needs to be tested for as early as possible as giving infants with galactosemia dairy products – including formula and breast milk – can damage their organs. So, is there a galactosemia test? There is, and I’m going to tell you all about it.

How is a Galactosemia Test Done?

There are two main methods for testing galactosemia; blood samples and urine samples.

  • Blood sample using a heel stick

Heel sticks are used to test babies for galactosemia rather than drawing blood from a vein. This is when some blood is collected from the baby’s heel. The heel is cleaned with alcohol before being punctured by a sterile lancet. The blood is collected onto a prepared piece of paper. A cotton ball or gauze pad is applied to the puncture site to stem the bleeding before a bandage is placed over it. This blood test is usually done within a few days of birth. If the test is positive then the doctor will take a blood sample from a vein for further testing.

  • Blood sample from a vein

The doctor drawing the blood begins by wrapping an elastic band around the upper arm of your child to find the vein and draw blood from it. The vein is treated with alcohol before the blood is drawn. After collecting enough blood the doctor will remove the band and – once again – cotton ball and bandage the puncture site.

  • Urine Tests

The other way to test for galactose is through urine samples. The doctor will tape a plastic collection back to the genital area of the baby and simply wait for nature to take her course. The collection back is removed after urination, and then the urine is tested for excessive levels of galactose.

Does The Baby Feel Anything?

The baby will typically feel a quick sting or pinch when blood is drawn from their heels. It can cause some discomfort, but it typically doesn’t last very long. When it comes to blood samples from veins, the baby might not feel anything from the initial needle puncture, but they may feel some discomfort while the needle is in their vein. How much pain is felt depends on the skill of the doctor, the condition of the vein, and how sensitive your baby is to pain.

The baby typically feels no discomfort at all if a urine collection bag is used. There could be some discomfort caused by removing the tape attaching the bag to the skin. Even so, it’s generally the most painless option. It also happens to be less effective than drawing blood, so keep this in mind.


You’ll have several options when it comes to testing your baby for galacostemia. If the doctor diagnoses your baby with the condition, they will typically have some recommendations for you, including alternatives to dairy products you can use to ensure your baby grows up healthy and strong.

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