G6PD Deficiency – What is it? What can Help?
- G6PD Deficiency affects about 600 million people worldwide.
- G6PD Deficiency is not infectious – it is passed down by one or both parents.
- G6SP Deficiency is found more in certain ethnic groups – those of Mediterranean origin, and African Americans seem more prone.
- Where G6PD Deficiency is common, babies are usually screened for the condition at birth.
What is it?
- G6PD is ‘Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase’ – an enzyme found in everyone’ body.
- People withG6PD deficiency either produce too little, or what they do produce doesn’t function properly.
- When a person who is G6PD deficient is exposed to certain foods, infections or medications – all known as ‘triggers’ – these triggers can cause unwelcome by-products to accumulate in the body and damage red blood cells.
- The G6PDenzyme is vital in protecting red blood cells -when red blood cells are damaged or destroyed, haemolytic anaemia can be the result.
Symptoms of the anaemia may include:
- Pale skin
- Extreme fatigue
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Enlarged spleen
- Dark urine
How is G6PD Deficiency diagnosed?
G6PD Deficiency must be diagnosed by a medical professional, who will do a blood test.
What is the treatment?
Once diagnosed, avoiding the triggers will prevent any problem – but if symptoms do arise, simply remove the trigger. The body can start to create new red blood cells and the symptoms will usually stop within a few weeks.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for G6PD Deficiency and it is not a condition that a child will grow out of.If your baby is G6PD deficient, you need to make sure that you avoid exposing him to triggers:
- certain foods – particularly broad beans (also known as fava beans) which are not only harmful to eat, but could also act as a trigger if just touched!
- certain medications
- bacterial or viral infection
Only rarely does G6PD Deficiency lead to on-going anaemia, so if you avoid the triggers your baby should lead a normal, healthy life.
A healthy diet means a healthy future…
If your baby has been diagnosed with G6PD Deficiency you may be quite worried when you want to introduce solid foods.Food product manufacturers currently do not have to state whether ingredients are safe for anyone with this condition – though you can contact the manufacturers for specific details of ingredients.
- Make your own nutritious baby food – it’s the very best way to make sureof exactly what’s in baby’s meals.
- Give your baby a healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables – WITH A FEW EXCEPTIONS (SEE ABOVE AND BELOW).
- Avoid artificial ingredients.
Speak with your doctor when you want to introduce new foods into your child’s diet, and avoid:
- Foods that may contain sulphites – used as preservatives in dried fruits and dried potato products such as instant mashed potato.
- Fava beans, also known as broad beans – and possibly all legumes.
- Peanut butter (see legumes, above).
- Soy and soy products such as tofu – soy does not affect everyone with G6PD Deficiency, but get your doctor’s go-ahead first.
- Blueberries – and anything containing them, like blueberry yogurt.
- Bitter melon/melon gourd.
- Some Chinese herbs.
- Artificial ascorbic acid.
- Artificial food colourings – especially blue.
- Menthol – used in some sweets (candy) and toothpastes.
- Artificial food preservatives.
- Prepared Chinese and Korean food – they often contain soy or bean paste.
Which foods are best for a baby with G6PD Deficiency?
- Foods rich in antioxidants – because the red blood cells in those with G6PD Deficiency are more prone to damage by oxidative substances.
- Organic foods- as they are grown without the use of any harmful chemicals.
- Barley, oats, ginger and garlic.
With the exceptions of the triggers mentioned earlier, fruits (especially berries) and vegetables (especially beets) are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Some berries can trigger allergic reactions – discuss these with your doctor, and introduce them carefully using The 4 Day Rule and watching for any signs of allergic reaction.
Taking care to introduce a truly nutritious diet and avoiding foods that will trigger a problem. This will give your child the very best start to a long, healthy life.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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