This article aims to give a basic guide for better understanding of the condition called G6PD Deficiency. A good understanding of G6PD deficiency will lead to better management of the condition so your child can continue to live a normal life. Remember to always seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and care.
What is G6PD?
G6PD is an abbreviation for the enzyme, Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase. This enzyme protects red blood cells from being destroyed or broken apart which may lead to a condition called hemolysis.
Hemolysis, if left unmanaged, may develop into hemolytic anemia, jaundice, and even kernicterus (a serious and permanent form of brain damage).
G6PD deficiency is a lifelong genetic condition that may either be due to the absence of the G6PD enzyme in red blood cells, insufficient production of red blood cells, or because the G6PD enzyme is not working as intended. Without enough of the G6PD enzyme, red blood cells may become vulnerable to destruction by certain food, medications, and infections.
What causes G6PD, and what are the signs/symptoms?
G6PD deficiency is an inherited condition that may be genetically passed down by one or both parents. Some mothers may be asymptomatic carriers while some fathers may be symptomatic carriers.
Children with mild symptoms usually don’t need medical treatment. If a G6PD deficient child is anemic, it may improve as the body makes new red blood cells. Children with more severe symptoms may need hospital care.
For the health and medical concerns of your child, always seek medical advice from your doctor.
The following are 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
Some symptoms of G6PD deficiency may not be immediately evident. Symptoms from hemolytic anemia may surface as more red blood cells are destroyed. Your doctor may refer your child for additional tests to verify if the symptoms are consistent with G6PD deficiency.
What Should I Look Out For?
If your child has G6PD deficiency, seek medical advice from your doctor for guidance on what to look out for. There may be specific food, medications, or vitamins that you will need to avoid that may further damage to the red blood cells.
Triggers or risk factors of G6PD deficiency in children may include:
● infections (bacterial or viral)
● medications including fever-reducing medicines
● antibiotics and antimalarial drugs
● foods containing soy protein and broad beans.
Always consult your doctor on food and medication intake when caring for your child with G6PD deficiency.