G6PD deficiency (G6PDd) is the most common inherited enzyme deficiency in the world. Over 5% of the world’s population is affected. People who are G6PD deficient express various degrees of impairment of the activity of this important enzyme. Understand how G6PDd can be passed down in families. Go to: Did I Inherit G6PDd?
A G6PD deficient person can be exposed to certain triggers that can cause oxidative stress. This can cause the unprotected red blood cells to break down (hemolysis) and the G6PD deficient could have a hemolytic anemia outcome. Know the signs of Acute Hemolytic Anemia.
The most common known cause (trigger) for a hemolytic episode to occur is when a G6PD deficient person becomes sick with an infection. Thus it is very important to keep a healthy lifestyle and avoid getting run down or sick. Certain medicines, food and chemicals are known triggers of oxidative stress and should be avoided by anyone with G6PD deficiency. It is important to learn how to prevent hemolytic episodes.
G6PD deficiency is not evenly distributed around the world. High frequencies are found in the Sub-Saharan African, Mediterranean and South-East Asian countries. The USA population includes descendants of people from these regions and the overall frequency of G6PDd is estimated to be 4-7%. However, in African-American males, the prevalence is about 12%.
G6PD deficiency is a major risk factor for dangerous levels of bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) in newborns. Severe jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) develops in about 0.1% (1 in 1,000) newborns. Other disorders can contribute to neonatal jaundice and not all G6PD deficient newborns become jaundiced. Be aware of the signs for neonatal jaundice.
Important to note: If hyperbilirubinemia is not recognized, and is left untreated, the baby can develop Kernicterus (brain damage due to extremely high levels of bilirubin in the blood). In the USA it is noted that 20% of these severely jaundiced newborns are G6PD deficient. Kernicterus is life threatening.
Prior to any kind of medical care treatment, it is important to inform the health provider that you are G6PD deficient.
Brody’s Battle happened in the first ten days of his life and nearly ended it, leaving him with terrible brain damage caused by a condition called Kernicterus. Our foundation was started to spare other newborns such life-threatening events by raising awareness of how undiagnosed G6PD deficiency can cause Jaundice. A Kernicterus event can occur if neonatal Jaundice is not properly managed.
This story does not have to happen to another family...