G6PD Deficiency or Favism
G6PD Deficiency

What is G6PD deficiency?

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme which helps red blood cells (RBCs) function normally. G6PD deficiency is a hereditary condition in which your child has low levels of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme. The RBCs of a child with G6PD deficiency get destroyed quickly when he/she is exposed to certain triggers such as medications, food, or diseases. G6PD deficiency is more common in boys than in girls.

What are the symptoms of G6PD deficiency?

Symptoms which appear when your child is exposed to a trigger include:

  • Paleness.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy.
  • Weak, rapid pulse.
  • Heavy, fast breathing.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
  • Dark tea-colored urine.
  • Enlarged spleen
  • General deterioration of physical conditions
  • A sore or abnormally smooth tongue

What Causes G6PD deficiency?

G6PD deficiency is a genetic condition that it is passed along from one or both parents to their child. The defective gene that causes this deficiency is on the X chromosome, which is one of the two sex chromosomes. One altered copy of the gene is enough to cause G6PD deficiency. Males are affected by G6PD deficiency much more frequently than females.

How G6PD deficiency is diagnosed?

A blood test can be done to check the level of G6PD. Other tests that may be done include:

  • Bilirubin level
  • Complete blood count, including red blood cell count
  • Hemoglobin - blood
  • Hemoglobin - urine
  • Haptoglobin level
  • LDH test
  • Methemoglobin reduction test
  • Reticulocyte count

Is there any treatment for G6PD deficiency?

There is no treatment for G6PD deficiency. If your child becomes symptomatic, the situation becomes an emergency, and he/she must immediately be seen by a doctor. Your child may need to receive an immediate blood transfusion to save his/her life.

The best treatment for your child is prevention by avoiding exposure to triggers throughout his/her life. Because G6PD deficiency is a hereditary condition, please consult a hematologist, and have other children in the family tested if not done at birth.

Which foods should a child with G6PD deficiency avoid?

Your child should avoid the following:

  • Fava beans
  • Blueberries
  • Soya products
  • Tonic water
  • Camphor
  • Black and green tea and extracts

Keep in mind that even a little intake of such food may trigger any of the symptoms of G6PD deficiency.

Which medications should my child avoid?

Before giving your child any medication, check the information label to make sure that the medication does not include any of the following components:

  • acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)
  • ascorbic acid (vitamin c)
  • chloramphenicol
  • chloroquine
  • dapsone
  • dimercaprol
  • doxorubicin
  • mepacrine
  • methylene blue
  • methyldopa
  • nalidixic acid
  • naphthalene
  • nitrofurantoin
  • phenazopyridine
  • primaquine
  • quinine
  • sulfacetamide
  • sulfadiazine
  • sulfamethoxazole (co-trimoxazole, septra)
  • sulfanilamide
  • sulfapyridine
  • sul soxazole (pediazole)
  • toluidine blue

You can consult your doctor or pharmacist as well.

Does my Insurance Policy cover G6PD?

Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia should cover the treatment of G6PD.

Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.


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