Posted on Jun. 25th, 2014 at 3:00pm
Andrea Bastian is used to getting questions: Questions about her height, her slim frame, and even her eating habits.
The questions don’t bother the college student from South St. Paul, Minnesota. She simply explains that she has a genetic disease, which means she can’t eat and drink certain things—such as certain meats and soft drinks.
Bastian was diagnosed at seven days old, following a routine blood test given to infants that screens for the life-threatening metabolic disorder, phenylketonuria or PKU.
Since birth, Bastian has used Phenyl-Free, Mead Johnson’s special formula designed specifically for infants, children and adults with PKU. Phenyl-Free contains no phenylalanine, an amino acid that cannot be broken down by people with PKU because of an enzyme deficiency. Bastian has been using Phenyl-Free since she was one week old—and she still uses it every day. “I’ve relied on this formula throughout my life. It went with me everywhere I went. It still does,” she said.
Today, Andrea’s struggles and victories with PKU have motivated her to pursue a career in healthcare and help others with mobility issues. She already has a bachelor’s degree, and is now a graduate student at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Taking classes in orthotics and prosthetics, she eventually plans to earn a master’s degree.
A passionate advocate for routine testing for PKU, Andrea emphasizes that education is the key to understanding PKU and how it can be managed effectively.
“I tell people not to be afraid of a metabolic disease,” Andrea says. “Look at me; I’m not broken.”
An extended version of Andrea’s story can be found in our 2013 Annual Report, located on Mead Johnson’s Investors page.