Does Your Child Have G6PD Deficiency?

Does Your Child Have G6PD Deficiency

Newborn screening has helped doctors diagnose certain hereditary conditions in babies as early when the baby is a couple of weeks old, and one of the conditions that they can detect is a deficiency in G6PD. While other conditions are fatal, G6PD deficiency is easily managed, although there will be some nutritional considerations to take.

G6PD, or Glucose Phosphate Dehydrogenase, is an enzyme required to convert substances in the body into a reduced form, which keeps our red blood cells from getting damaged. As such, a child that lacks G6PD lacks this capacity to convert the given substance into a form that does not pose a risk of damage to the red blood cells. This means that a child with G6PD deficiency can get anemic as a result of the destroyed red blood cells. The condition is a rare hereditary condition that can affect people in different degrees from person-to-person.

If your baby’s newborn screening result shows him to have G6PD deficiency, there are ways you can care for him to take into account the condition:

1. You can help improve his resistance to infection by having regular immunization.

2. Certain antibiotic medications should be avoided, such as nalidixic acid, chloramphenicol, nitrofurantoin, or those from the sulfa group, such as cotrimoxazole. Anti-malaria medicines like primaquine, the anti-leprosy drug dapsone, and pain relievers like high-dose aspirin should also be avoided.

3. Legumes and beans, including soy-based products, are generally not recommended for children with G6PD, as it may cause anemia. Consult your doctor for his advice, but typically he would recommend you not to introduce these foods at an early age. When the child is older, he might advise you to try to introduce them a little at a time.

4. Natural foods are preferred especially for children with G6PD. Your pediatrician will normally give you a list of foods to avoid, such as legumes and beans, but other than that, most natural foods should be safe. Try to steer clear of processed foods as much as possible, as they typically make use of soy and legume additives, or bean paste as a thickener. Thankfully groceries now offer a wider selection of fresh foods, and you can also get your pick at the local organic market. Natural fruit juices, fresh milk, and cheese, not the processed cheese food, are good additions.

5. Processed foods that you should be wary about offering a G6PD-positive child include artificial butter flavor, canned meats, chips, low-fat cheeses or cheese substitutes, sauces like Worcestershire or sweet and sour sauce, margarine, candies, or baked goods. If ever, be sure to offer any food item in small doses at first to check for any allergic response.

6. Chinese food and other similar Oriental food should also be taken in a watchful manner, as they are typically cooked with soy-based sauces or bean pastes. Korean food is very much filled with bean pastes as well. Of course, the level of intensity of a child’s G6PD-deficiency varies from person-to-person, anyway, so it is still best to check your child’s ability to ingest them.

7. When your child constantly rejects the natural, unprocessed food you offer, don’t despair. Instead, try to introduce foods one at a time, so you know which ones to improve upon should he reject them. For rejected foods, you can re-introduce them with a varied taste and perhaps a new presentation. Perhaps you can puree meat and veggies and form them into balls or patties to make them more attractive. While these sorts of challenges may also be encountered by moms whose babies are not G6PD-positive, it is more crucial for you as you cannot just resort to processed food at the first sign of trouble.

In any case, your pediatrician can give you recommendations of how to improve your child’s fight against anemia with his deficiency of this enzyme.


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