G6PD deficiency is a lifelong genetic disorder in which the body is deficient in the enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, important in protecting red blood cells. There is no cure for G6PD deficiency. It is prevalent in Southeast Asia, Middle East, and South Africa.
This condition is included in the newborn screening program and is usually diagnosed upon birth. While G6PD deficiency remains uncurable, most people with this condition can live a normal life as long as they avoid the triggers.
This article aims to give you a better understanding of G6PD deficiency. Always seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and care.
What are the signs and symptoms of G6PD deficiency?
Though some children may not manifest any symptom at all, the following are the common signs and symptoms of G6PD deficiency.
• Extreme tiredness or dizziness
• Fast heartbeat
• Fast breathing or shortness of breath
• Jaundice or when the skin & eyes appear yellow
• Dark, tea-colored urine
Many G6PD deficient children appear jaundiced upon birth, but once this has passed and treated, they should not get other severe problems from G6PD deficiency, as long as triggers from food and medicines are avoided.
How can I help my G6PD deficient child?
If your child has G6PD deficiency, seek medical advice from your doctor. Most cases of G6PD deficiency can be managed by avoiding the triggers which can come from food and medicines. However, if anemia is developed, treatment is necessary.
Food triggers that should be avoided include:
• All products with soy protein
• Fava beans and all beans
• Tonic water
Additionally, your child should not come in close contact with mothballs (naphthalene) and camphor.
Your child should not take certain medicines
The following list only contains the names of medicines that are most likely to trigger the breakdown of red blood cells (haemolysis). If this happens, the person may not have enough red blood cells and may become anaemic.
If your child has G6PD deficiency, the following medicines should be avoided:
• Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
• Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
• Methylene blue
• Nalidixic acid
• Sulfamethoxazole (Co-trimoxazole, Septra)
• Sulfisoxazole (Pediazole)
• Toluidine blue
This list may be updated over time, as other medicines may be discovered as causing similar problems to people with G6PD deficiency.
The risk and severity of haemolysis is almost always dose-related. This means that if your child takes a higher dosage of one of these medicines, the more likely they are to develop haemolysis and be at risk of severe conditions.
Consult your doctor right away to give you a better guidance on what medicines to avoid.