Before prescribing medications to children, I would always make it a habit to ask parents about their children’s G6PD status. Sometimes I do encounter parents who are not sure what G6PD means or its significance.
All children born in Malaysia are routinely screened for two blood tests upon delivery, G6PD and thyroid hormone.
G6PD deficiency is a genetic disorder that affects mostly boys. It is due to a defective gene on the X chromosome. Since males only have a single X chromosome, they are more likely to have this condition while the females with two X chromosomes are carriers.
A child with G6PD deficiency does not produce the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) adequately.
Why is the G6PD enzyme important?
The primary function of the G6PD enzyme is to protect red blood cells from harmful substances in the blood. With the lack of this enzyme, red blood cells can break easily (hemolysis) when exposed to certain food, medicines, or infections.
What are the signs of hemolysis?
Due to the rapid blood loss in a short period, the child can appear pale and develop symptoms such as dizziness, tiredness, fast beating of the heart, and breathing difficulty. The affected child would also have yellowish discolouration of the eyes and skin and passing tea-coloured urine.
Is G6PD deficiency curable?
G6PD deficiency is not curable. The crucial point is to avoid the triggers that can cause blood breakdown. Other than that, a child with G6PD deficiency is as healthy as any other child.
If your child has G6PD deficiency, do remind the doctor or pharmacist during the prescription of medicines.