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Primary carnitine deficiency

Other Names for this Disease
  • Carnitine deficiency, systemic, due to defect in renal reabsorption of carnitine
  • Carnitine plasma-membrane transporter deficiency
  • Carnitine transporter deficiency
  • Carnitine uptake defect
  • Carnitine uptake deficiency
More Names
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How might primary carnitine deficiency be treated?

Most individuals with primary carnitine deficiency are followed by a metabolic doctor as well as a dietician familiar with this condition. Certain treatments may be advised for some children but not others. Treatment is often needed throughout life. The main treatment for this condition is lifelong use of L-carnitine, which is a natural substance that helps body cells make energy. It also helps the body get rid of harmful wastes. L-carnitine can reverse the heart problems and muscle weakness caused by this condition.[1]

In addition to L-carnitine, infants and young children with primary carnitine deficiency need to eat frequently to prevent a metabolic crisis. In general, it is often suggested that infants be fed every four to six hours. But some babies need to eat even more frequently than this. Many teens and adults with this condition can go without food for up to 12 hours without problems. Some children and teens benefit from a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet. Any diet changes should be made under the guidance of a metabolic specialist and/or dietician familiar with this condition. Ask your doctor whether your child needs to have any changes in his or her diet. Other treatments usually need to be continued throughout life.[1]

Infants and children with this condition need to eat extra starchy food and drink more fluids during any illness, even if they may not feel hungry, because they could have a metabolic crisis. Children who are sick often do not want to eat. If they won’t or can’t eat, they may need to be treated in the hospital to prevent serious health problems.[1]
Last updated: 10/17/2011

  1. Carnitine transporter deficiency. Screening, Technology, and Research in Genetics (STAR-G). April 2011; Accessed 10/17/2011.

Management Guidelines

  • GeneReviews provides current, expert-authored, peer-reviewed, full-text articles describing the application of genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of patients with specific inherited conditions. Click on the link to view the article on this topic.

Clinical Trials & Research for this Disease

  • lists trials that are studying or have studied Primary carnitine deficiency. Click on the link to go to to read descriptions of these studies.
  • The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. There is a study titled Studies of Children with Metabolic or Other Genetic Disorders which may be of interest to you. To find this trial, click on the link above.

Medical Products

The medication(s) listed in the table(s) below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of this condition. The FDA Office of Orphan Products Development designates "orphan products" for those that treat rare diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. The table(s) below may not be an exhaustive list of drugs or products used to treat this condition. There may be other products available that are not considered orphan products. To search for all FDA approved drugs, visit Drugs@FDA. You can find orphan products used to treat other conditions by searching the Orphan Drug Product Designation database.

Generic Name Levocarnitine
Trade Name
(Manufacturer Name)
(Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
The FDA has approved this product to be used in this manner.
Treatment of primary and secondary carnitine deficiency.
More Information about this product Drug Information Portal
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