The boy who turned orange: He’d eaten too many carrots… but at least his future’s bright!
Eating carrots may help Leo Barnett see in the dark, but they make him easy to spot too – because they turn him bright orange.
The three-year-old is believed to be the only person in Britain to suffer from a condition that means his body cannot digest carotene, which gives foods such as carrots their colour.
When the substance builds up, his skin becomes orange.
Leo Barnett is believed to be the only person in the UK to suffer from hyper-beta carotenemia, a condition where carrots turn him orange
His mother Angie, 40, has been forced to put him on a strict diet and cut out all foods containing carotene.
She said she first noticed the problem when Leo was six months old. ‘He’d had pneumonia and we were very close to losing him,’ she said.
‘His kidneys and liver had been failing so that’s where we thought the orangey-yellow colour had come from. But a month later he was still orange.’
Leo’s mother Angie has been forced to put him on a strict diet and cut out all foods containing carotene
A specialist told her to cut out orange foods, but she said: ‘It didn’t make any difference. He was still the same colour.’
Doctors then carried out blood tests which revealed he was missing a liver enzyme.
This means his body is unable to convert carotene into Vitamin A, which strengthens the immune system.
The condition is called hyper-beta carotenemia.
Leo Barnett’s condition means his body cannot digest carotene, found in things like carrots and oranges
Leo Barnett has been nicknamed the ‘Tango kid’ because carrots turn him orange
WHY DO CARROTS TURN LEO ORANGE
Leo Barnett suffers from hyper-beta carotenemia.
Beta carotene is responsible for giving foods their distinct colour,
such as the orange pigment in carrots.
Once ingested by the body the beta carotene in food is converted into vitamin A.
Chronic carotene toxicity can occur through recurrent ingestion of carotene over a period of weeks or years of excessive doses – usually ten times the recommended intake.
The condition means Leo’s body cannot digest the carotene and the build up turns him orange.
Carotene had built up so much that his skin remained orange even after he stopped eating orange foods.
His mother said: ‘We used to call him the Tango kid and Oompa Loompa because of his colour!’
Eventually, the orange glow faded.
Excessive amounts of carotene are not thought to be a serious health risk, but Leo’s immune system is so weak that even a cold could kill him if he didn’t take daily drops of Vitamin A.
Despite this his mother, from Odiham, Hampshire, who runs her own dog walking business, said he was like any other boy his age and was looking forward to a bright future.
‘He is on the go from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep.
He is such a happy little chap,’ she added.
Due to his condition Leo has to be stopped from eating vegetables
Leo, pictured with his family, has battled pneumonia twice and was struck down with Swine flu when he was two-years-old