G6PD Deficiency: What You Need to Know

What Is G6PD Deficiency?

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a genetic disorder in which the body lacks the enzyme known as G6PD in red blood cells. This defect causes the premature destruction of red blood cells, called haemolysis.

G6PD deficiency is commonly associated with haemolytic anaemia, a condition in which red blood cells are broken down at a rate exceeding the body's ability to replace them.

It is more prevalent in males and is typically passed on from mothers to their sons even though the mother has not experienced any symptoms. The mother is a carrier of the condition.

What Are the Symptoms of G6PD Deficiency in Newborns?

Symptoms of G6PD deficiency in newborns may include the following: 

  • Pale
  • Jaundice (yellowish appearance of skin and white part of the eyes)
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Poor feeding 
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure

How Is G6PD Deficiency Diagnosed?

G6PD levels can be determined with a specific blood test. However, this test is not routinely done. G6PD deficiency testing is performed exclusively when the doctor has reasonable grounds to suspect the patient is affected, such as the development of jaundice.

How Is G6PD Deficiency Treated?

Typically, treatment is not required, but substances that are known to cause harm should be avoided. 

In some cases:

  • Medications may be required to treat an infection if present.
  • Transfusions.
  • Stopping medicines that cause red blood cell destruction.

What to Take Note of If Your Child Has G6PD?

Food items to avoid:

  • Fava beans (also known as broad beans)

Household items to avoid:

  • Naphthalene (moth balls)

Medications to avoid:

  • Antimalarial medicines such as chloroquinine, primaquine and pamaquine
  • Aspirin 
  • Dapsone
  • Phenylhydrazine
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Nalidixic acid
  • Sulphonamides such as co-trimoxazole
  • Quinalones such as ciprofloxacin

Always consult your doctor before using herbal or traditional medicine.

Make an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Most individuals with G6PD deficiency can lead a completely normal life provided they avoid certain medications and food. 

A dedicated and expert team of Paediatric specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance to patients through screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions about G6PD deficiency. 

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

Thank you for your patience