Mom of Sick Connecticut Teen 'Collapses' in Court After Judge Sends
Kid to Foster Care
Feb. 25, 2014
By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
Lou and Linda Pelletier, of West Hartford, Conn., have been fighting
for their daughter who they say has mitochondrial disease, a rare
genetic disorder with physical symptoms that can affect every part of
the body. ...
... "If she had somatoform disorder, then her condition would have
improved," he said. "She's not gotten any better."
... Justina was diagnosed with somatoform pain disorder, a psychiatric
condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known
medical explanation can be found, according to her family. The case
highlights a growing concern among those with rare diseases and
autoimmune disorders that physical symptoms that cannot be explained
will be dismissed by doctors as psychosomatic.
... Mitochondrial disease affects the body's ability to make energy, according to Dr. Richard Boles, medical director of Courtagen Life
Sciences, a genetic testing company in Massachusetts, and a practicing
physician in Los Angeles.
"The symptoms can affect any part of the body," said Boles, who did
not treat Justina. "It can cause just about anything. People with
mitochondrial disease can have diabetes, autism or other types of
retardation, seizure disorders or migraine, chronic fatigue or
"People with mitochondrial disease have a lot of pain," he told ABCNews.com earlier this month. "Normal sensations are amplified by the nervous system. They are not making it up. The idea of somatoform is you are making it up to serve some need. But they are having real pain."
... "The system has failed," said Justina's father Pelletier. "I am battling the medical world that thinks it knows everything."