What is G6PD and what it cause to a baby?

All our babies will be tested for G6PD deficiency right after birth and this is stated in a card along with their blood group.  So, what is G6PD?  One of our forum member has a relative who gave birth to a newborn baby with G6PD deficiency.

Gucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase(G6PD) deficiency is the most common human enzyme deficiency; an estimated 400 million people worldwide are affected by this enzymopathy (Scriver etal., 1995). One benefit of having G6PD deficiency is that it confers a resistance to malaria. G6PD deficiency is also sometimes referred to as favism since some G6PD deficient individuals are also allergic to fava beans. Individuals with reduced G6PD activity are at risk for several pathologies which can be potentially serious (even causing death) if they are not properly treated.The severity of the pathologies associated with G6PD deficiency has prompted researchers to study this condition. Since the discovery of G6PD deficiency in 1956, thousands of research papers have been published on various aspects of this genetic condition (Carson et al., 1956; Beutler, 1994). It is therefore important to learn about G6PD deficiency; more specifically, this WEB site will introduce the genetic, physiological, molecular, and clinical aspects of this condition. (source)

I only know two things which are dangerous for children with G6PD, i.e. mothballs and kacang parang or fava beans but heard that these includes all types of Chinese, Malay and other traditional herbal medicines.

When can G6PD deficiency cause problems?

  • Problems for children and adults
    Most people with G6PD deficiency have completely normal health. However, problems can occur occasionally. These problems are much more common in boys and men with G6PD deficiency than girls and women. Some children and adults with G6PD deficiency may develop haemolysis and anaemia if they get a fever or if they take one of the medicines listed below. Some people may develop haemolysis and anaemia if they eat broad beans (this is called favism). An affected person feels unwell, becomes pale and jaundiced (yellow) and may have a backache and pass dark urine. If you develop any of these symptoms, call your GP or go to the nearest Accident & Emergency Department and take this leaflet with you.
  • Problems for newborn babies
    If a mother carries G6PD deficiency, she may pass it on to some of her children and some may get jaundiced (yellow) in the newborn period. This is particularly likely for baby boys. Severe jaundice can be serious for newborn babies if it is not treated. It is usually treated by putting the baby under a special light for a few days. Many babies with G6PD deficiency are diagnosed because they have jaundice soon after birth. Once the jaundice has passed they should not get other problems from G6PD deficiency provided they avoid broad beans and the drugs listed on the back page.
  • How can I avoid having problems?

    The following medicines can sometimes cause problems for people with G6PD deficiency and should be avoided if possible.

    For malaria avoid:

  • Maloprim (contains Dapsone)
  • Primaquine
  • Pentaquine
  • Pamaquine

For other infections avoid:

  • Nalidixic acid
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Sulphonamides (some, including Co-trimoxazole = Septrin®, Bactrim®)
  • Dapsone

Avoid close contact with:

  • Moth balls (Naphthaline)

Avoid eating:

  • Fava (Broad) beans
  • Chinese herbal medicines

Post Author: Lilian

3 thoughts on “What is G6PD and what it cause to a baby?

    Cheryl Villeta

    (May 20, 2009 - 7:10 pm)

    Please give me list for mosquito repellant lotion for a g6pd baby… Can I use chicco insect repellant lotion?


    (July 16, 2009 - 8:58 pm)

    sir with this mail iw anan know that my son is g6 pd defficient the defficenciy is 1.1 is it normal .or we have 2 worry about it i have one daughter i did test of grpd but her report is pending .can i know is she will be also g6pd defficent .and pls tell us will my kids lead a normal life or not

    Dale Baker

    (November 5, 2009 - 3:58 am)

    These are such common misconceptions. I have dealt with g6pd deficiency for 62 years and have almost died from hemolysis twice. My cousin died from hemolysis before they could get him to the hospital. I have two cousins in mental hospitals from hyperbilirubinemia caused from hemolysis. Your list of contraindicated substances is VERY short.

    I don’t mean to criticize, but there are babies and children dying from g6pd deficiency because of gross ignorance and misconceptions about this condition. For instance, one five year old child died in a hospital in China because he was given the contraindicated drug aspirin for a fever.

    I recently received a letter from a Dr. in India complaining that older people were dying of hemolysis from receiving contraindicated drugs when they have g6pd deficiency.

    Please…this is a potentially life threatening condition and should not be downplayed.

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