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Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders (FAODs) At a Glance


We have enzymes that break down fats in our bodies. This process is known as fatty acid oxidation. When the body can’t break down fatty acids to make energy, Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders (FAOD) occur.

MCAD and VLCAD are the most common of the FAOD, but many different disorders are included in this group.  

Fatty acids are a major source of energy for the heart and muscles. Energy from fat keeps us going when our bodies run low on our main source of energy (glucose).  This might happen when we miss a meal or sleep. Once sugar or glucose is gone, the body tries to use fat without success. This leads to low blood sugar (known as hypoglycemia) and the buildup of harmful substances in the blood.

When a FAOD is diagnosed and treated at birth, the prognosis for most FAOD is excellent. Symptoms and treatments can vary between different FAOD and even can vary within the same FAOD. If undiagnosed and/or untreated, disorders can lead to serious complications. Treatment consists of dietary interventions specific to the particular FAOD.

Children with FAOD do not have any distinct physical features.

Pictures courtesy of FOD Family Support Group.