Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency

Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD Deficiency) is an inherited condition in which the body doesn’t have enough of the enzyme G6PD to help red blood cells function normally, which means they break down prematurely. This deficiency causes hemolytic anaemia, which occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them.

G6PD deficiency is passed along in genes from one or both parents of the child. Children with G6PD deficiency usually do not show any symptoms until their red cells are exposed to ‘triggers’ such as viral or bacterial infections, certain foods (eg fava beans), certain antibiotics and antimalarial drugs. The child may then exhibit symptoms of anaemia such as fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, enlarged spleen or dark urine.

Once the trigger is removed, symptoms of G6PD deficiency usually disappear. As the body naturally makes new red blood cells the anaemia will improve. If anaemia symptoms are severe, further treatment may be required.