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G6PD deficiency is due to a problem with an enzyme (chemical) found in the red blood cells. It is very common in some racial groups, and scientists think there are about 400 million people in the world with G6PD deficiency.
G6PD deficiency does not go away and is a lifelong condition. It is an inherited disease (i.e. passed on from previous generations). You cannot catch it by being in contact with someone else.
It is more common in males and is usually passed on to male children from their mother, even though she has had no symptoms herself. Your doctor can explain the way in which it is inherited and the tests that can be done to check for the condition.
Most people with G6PD deficiency have a completely normal life as long as they avoid certain foods and drugs. Some people with the condition will get anaemia. Anaemia can make children look pale and have less energy. This may happen after taking one of the drugs or eating the foods listed below, or during an illness such as an infection. Some babies with G6PD deficiency may have jaundice for longer than usual in the first month of life. Jaundice makes the skin look yellow because of the breakdown of red blood cells.
If your child has G6PD deficiency, they should be checked by a doctor whenever any of the following symptoms develop:
You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any medication to your child.
In particular your child should avoid the foods, drugs and chemicals on this list:
Always discuss with your doctor before you take any antimalarial medication.
Some children with G6PD must not take Asprin. Check with your specialist or paediatrician first.
Always check the labels of any medications you buy without a prescription.
Be careful about using herbal, naturopathic or other alternative / complementary therapies.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital General Medicine, Haematology and Pharmacy. Thank you to the parents who helped with this fact sheet. First published: 2003. Reviewed: May 2011
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