Helpful tips for the management of G6PD deficiency

As a parent, learning your child has G6PD deficiency can be stressful and worrisome. Many questions abound. What can I do now?  Is the condition manageable? Can my child grow out of it? The first step is to understand what you are dealing with to determine what you can do to help manage the condition.

Gaining better knowledge of this condition can help you fully understand the factors that can affect your child's health and effectively strategize ways to help them.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information included in this material is for informational purposes only. Always seek medical advice for any concerns about health and nutrition.

What is G6PD Deficiency?

G6PD deficiency is a genetic condition that affects red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Exposure to specific triggers may cause these cells to break down and cause anemia. The excessive breakdown of these cells can also lead to children developing jaundice which manifests as yellow skin, eyes, and tongue. 

While G6PD is a genetic condition, not everyone with G6PD deficiency is affected in the same way. Some people may be affected mildly, while others may have severe symptoms that require hospital care.

Causes and Symptoms

G6PD deficiency is hereditary. Children are born with this condition if they inherit a defective X chromosome gene from one or both parents.

Just like any health condition, G6PD deficiency, if unmanaged, may lead to health complications. This enzyme deficiency can lead to severe anemia triggered by specific chemicals, medications or food that destroy red blood cells.

If your G6PD deficient child is not showing any symptoms, their risk of developing anemia when exposed to triggers remains the same. It is still necessary to take extra precautions and avoid triggers that may cause symptoms to prevent complications.

After birth, babies can go through newborn screening to determine if they have this condition. However, this procedure is optional. If your child missed this test, they could still undergo confirmatory testing with their pediatrician.

You can also find out if your child has G6PD deficiency if they have the symptoms of anemia caused by the destruction of red blood cells.

Signs and symptoms of G6PD are the following:

  • Pale skin
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • Yellow skin and eyes/Jaundice
  • Dark urine

G6PD Deficiency: Common Triggers

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a genetic condition that affects almost 400 million people worldwide. In the Philippines, the incidence of G6PD deficiency is 4.5 to 25.7%. 

A child with this condition lacks the G6PD enzyme that protects the red blood cells (RBCs) from early destruction. The lack of it makes RBCs vulnerable to a breakdown which can lead to anemia.

What to avoid: 

  • Foods: Fava beans, soy products, red wines, legumes, or tonic water 
  • Chemicals: Naphthalene
  • Antibiotics: Sulfonamides, Co-trimoxazole
  • Other Medications: Aspirin, Large doses of Vitamin C

Diagnosis and treatment of G6PD Deficiency

G6PD deficiency is a lifetime condition. Ultimately, the goal is to avoid the triggers to prevent severe anemia from happening.

In managing your child's G6PD deficiency, here are some essential reminders:

  • Tell your child's pediatrician about this condition. This can prevent the prescription of medications that may trigger the symptoms. 
  • Memorize the signs and symptoms of severe anemia and consult a doctor immediately if these symptoms appear.
  • Keep a list of substances to avoid (e.g., certain chemicals, food, and medications). Post it on your fridge or kitchen wall for easy access. 
  • Always check the food labels first before buying food and drinks. Make sure they are FREE FROM specific ingredient triggers.

Understanding G6PD deficiency and its health consequences can help you effectively manage your child's condition to help them lead a normal and healthy life.

Living with G6PD deficiency – Helpful tips for parents

Living with a child who has G6PD deficiency can be challenging, but there are several helpful tips for parents to navigate the condition:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about G6PD deficiency, its triggers, and its management. Understanding the condition is the first step in caring for your child.
  • Consult with your doctor: Work closely with a healthcare professional knowledgeable about G6PD deficiency. They can offer guidance, monitor your child's health, and provide recommendations tailored to your child's specific needs.
  • Identify trigger foods: Know which foods and substances to avoid. Common triggers include fava beans, certain legumes, and some medications. Read labels carefully and teach your child to recognize and avoid these substances.
  • Healthy diet: Focus on providing a balanced, nutritious diet that excludes trigger foods. Ensure your child gets sufficient vitamins and minerals through safe alternatives.

As overwhelming as it may seem, G6PD is very manageable. Nearly everyone with this condition can lead a normal and healthy life by simply taking extra precautions and avoiding specific triggers.

Frequently asked questions on managing G6PD Deficiency

What is G6PD deficiency in newborn children?

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a genetic enzyme disorder present from birth, primarily affecting red blood cells. 

Newborns and individuals with G6PD deficiency are more susceptible to hemolysis, where their red blood cells can break apart, triggered by factors like specific foods (e.g., fava beans), medications (e.g., some pain relievers), or infections. The severity of G6PD deficiency can vary, and management involves avoiding known triggers and seeking guidance from healthcare providers to ensure a safe and healthy life.

How do you get G6PD deficiency?

It is inherited from one or both parents who carry the G6PD gene mutation. G6PD plays a vital role in protecting red blood cells from damage caused by certain chemicals and oxidative stress.

How to cure G6PD deficiency?

G6PD deficiency is a genetic condition, and as such, it cannot be cured. However, it can be effectively managed by avoiding triggers such as certain foods and medications, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying well-hydrated during illness to reduce the risk of hemolysis.

What is G6PD deficiency in Tagalog?

There isn't a direct translation for "G6PD deficiency" in Tagalog as it refers to a specific medical condition, and medical terminology is often expressed similarly in different languages.


[1] (n.d.). G6PD Deficiency (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. [online] Available at: Accessed 11 Oct. 2023

[2] National Institutes of Health-Philippines. (2017). Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency [Brochure]. Newborn Screening Philippines resource page. Available at: Accessed 11 Oct. 2023

[3] (2018). Kids Health Information : G6PD deficiency. [online] Available at:

[4] Herndon, J. (2012). G6PD Deficiency. [online] Healthline. Available at:

[5] Cleveland Clinic (2018). Adult jaundice. [online] Cleveland Clinic. Available at:

[6] Cafasso, J. (2015). Red Blood Cell Count (RBC): Purpose, Procedure, and Preparation. [online] Healthline. Available at:

[7]  Kahn, A. (2015). Hemolytic Anemia: What It Is and How to Treat It. [online] Healthline. Available at:


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