Sarah’s Struggle with Hunger in Prader-Willi Syndrome

January 9, 2024by Dr. S. F. Czar0

Case Study: 

Sarah, a 12-year-old girl with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), has always battled an insatiable hunger. From the moment she wakes up, her stomach growls, demanding to be filled. Food provides fleeting satisfaction, followed by relentless pangs that drive her to seek out anything edible.

At home, Sarah’s parents struggle to manage her calorie intake. Mealtimes are a constant negotiation, with Sarah pleading for more even after her plate is cleared. Snacks disappear mysteriously, and hidden stashes are routinely discovered. The fridge becomes a battleground, locked and padlocked to protect both their pantry and Sarah’s health.

School presents another challenge. The aroma of pizza day in the cafeteria is torture for Sarah. Her classmates share lunches, while she’s restricted to specially prepared, portion-controlled meals. The constant reminders of food and the social aspect of eating fuel her cravings, leading to outbursts and frustration.

Despite the constant physical and emotional struggle, Sarah is a bright and energetic child. She loves playing with her friends and participating in her art class. However, her PWS casts a shadow over everything. Her weight gain puts her at risk for health complications, and the constant focus on food isolates her from her peers.

One day, Sarah’s doctor mentions a potential link between her excessive hunger and a brain molecule called galanin. He explains that galanin levels are elevated in people with PWS, potentially explaining their insatiable appetite. This news sparks a glimmer of hope for Sarah and her family. The possibility of targeting galanin and finally taming her hunger pangs presents a potential path to a healthier, happier life.

This case study, while fictional, reflects the real-life challenges faced by individuals with PWS. Sarah’s story highlights the relentless hunger, the struggle for control, and the impact on daily life. However, it also offers a glimpse of hope, as research on galanin and other PWS-related mechanisms opens doors to potential treatments that could change the future for Sarah and others like her.

A Tug-of-War Between Hunger and Growth Hormone

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