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Health Information For Parents
G6PD deficiency is a genetic disorder that most often affects males. It happens when the body doesn’t have enough of an
called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD).
G6PD helps red blood cells work. It also protects them from substances in the blood that could harm them.
In people with G6PD deficiency, either the red blood cells do not make enough G6PD or what they do make doesn’t work as it should. Without enough G6PD to protect them, the red blood cells break apart. This is called hemolysis (hih-MOL-ih-sis). When many red blood cells are destroyed, a person can develop hemolytic (hee-meh-LIH-tik) anemia. This can cause tiredness, dizziness, and other symptoms.
Red blood cells that don’t have enough G6PD are sensitive to some medicines, foods, and infections. When these things trigger a quick loss of red blood cells over a short time, it’s called a hemolytic crisis. In these cases, the symptoms stop when the cause is gone. In rare cases, G6PD deficiency leads to
anemia regardless of exposure to triggers.
Triggers of hemolysis in kids with G6PD deficiency include:
Most people with G6PD deficiency don’t have any symptoms. Others might have symptoms of hemolytic anemia if many RBCs are destroyed.
These can include:
Mild symptoms usually don’t need medical treatment. As the body makes new red blood cells, the anemia will improve. If symptoms are more severe, a child may need care in a hospital.
G6PD deficiency is inherited. Children who have it are born with it because it was passed down in genes from one or both of the parents. The gene responsible for this condition is on the X
G6PD deficiency is most common in males of African heritage. Many females of African heritage are carriers of G6PD deficiency. This means that they can pass the gene for the deficiency to their children but do not have symptoms.
G6PD deficiency often isn’t found until a child gets symptoms. If doctors suspect G6PD deficiency, blood tests usually can confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes of anemia.
If you worry that your child might have G6PD deficiency, talk to your doctor about a screening test to check for it.
Treating G6PD deficiency symptoms is usually as simple as removing the trigger. Often, this means treating the infection or stopping the use of a drug. A child with severe anemia may need treatment in the hospital to get oxygen and fluids. Sometimes, a child also needs a transfusion of healthy blood cells.
The best way to care for a child with G6PD deficiency is to limit exposure to anything that triggers symptoms. Check with your doctor for instructions, and a list of medicines and other things that could be a problem for a child with G6PD deficiency.
With the right care, G6PD deficiency should not keep a child from living a healthy, active life.
Read the basics about genetics, including how certain illnesses, or increased risks for certain illnesses, pass from generation to generation.
Genes play an important role in how we look and act, and even in whether we get sick. This article gives the lowdown on genes, genetic disorders, and new research into gene therapy.
What does it mean when a kid has anemia? Learn about anemia, why kids get it, and how it’s treated in our article for kids.
Anemia is common in teens because they undergo rapid growth spurts, when the body needs more nutrients like iron. Learn about anemia and how it’s treated.
People who have anemia have fewer red blood cells than normal, which can make them feel tired because not enough oxygen is getting to their bodies’ cells.
Newborn screening tests look for health conditions that aren’t apparent at birth. Find out which tests are done.
Here are the basics about the life-sustaining fluid called blood.
Anemia happens when there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells in the body. It can be caused by many things, including dietary problems, medical treatments, and inherited conditions.
Genetic counselors work with people who are either planning to have a baby or are pregnant to determine whether they carry the genes for certain inherited disorders. Find out more.
Advances in genetic testing help doctors diagnose and treat certain illnesses. The type of test done depends on which condition a doctor checks for.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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