This is an incredibly common inherited condition, which is acquired from the parents and cannot be acquired externally. This can be inherited from one or both the parent. It is estimated that about 600 million people suffer from this condition. This is more commonly seen in African Americans and people of Mediterranean lineage. Therefore in these areas, babies should be screened for this condition at birth.
G6PD stands for ‘Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase’. Individuals suffering from G6Pd deficiency do not produce enough of the enzyme or the enzymes do not function properly in their body. This enzyme is very important for the normal functioning of the red blood cells. The deficient action of this enzyme leads to haemolytic anaemia. Haemolytic anaemia is characterised by breakdown and degeneration of red blood cell structure. In case of G6PD deficiency, the individual when exposed to foods containing triggers or certain infections, they suffer from haemolytic anaemia. These trigger foods produce some by-products which can damage the structure of red blood cells. The G6PD enzyme protects these cells from damage by these by-products. Therefore, in deficiency of this enzyme, the red blood cell structure gets damages and leads to haemolytic anaemia. Subsequently, the symptoms of anaemia also appear, like paleness, rapid heartbeat and breathing, early fatigue and dark coloured urine. Jaundice may also occur.
All the triggers can be easily avoided and the baby can lead a normal healthy life. This condition cannot be treated and does not even need a particular treatment. Just avoiding the triggers can help you avoid the adverse reactions from occurring.
G6pd deficiency foods to Avoid
Apart from some foods, infections from E. Coli and salmonella can also result in the appearance of the symptoms. So it is very important to avoid the growth of bacteria in foods. Proper hygiene is very important.
Apart from some specific foods, some medicines also result in such reactions. Some other foods which contain sulphites and some other preservatives are also responsible. Foods which contain sulphites include dried foods, fruits and veggies, fresh grapes, bottled juices, sauces, processed foods and frozen foods. No foods contain labels specifying the content of G6PD, so any purchased ready to eat or processed foods cannot be safe for you to consume.
In addition to such foods, some other foods also need to be avoided like soy beans and soy, peanut butter, blueberries and fava beans. Fava beans and some other similar legumes can cause a very severe response in patients with G6PD deficiency, known as favism. The symptoms may range from very mild to severe ones involving the kidney, liver and spleen. The mild haemolysis results in iron overload. Although, fava beans are the major ones resulting in such complications, some other legumes can also be responsible.
The damage to the red blood cells is caused mainly due to oxidative substances in the food. Therefore, the patients of G6PD deficiency should consume a diet rich in antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great of source of natural antioxidants. These foods can be given to children after 6 months of age. Although an advice from your physician should be taken before that. Berries can be a reason for allergy to the child. So, firstly you should try consuming them for a few days. Take the four day observation rule and observe any allergic responses in the child. Other good foods that can be consumed include ginger, garlic, oats and barley.
Organic foods are also a good option for the child. Organic foods are cultivated using no artificial chemicals, and therefore do not possess any danger of reaction to the child.
Do not give your child any iron supplements without consultation from your physician! Haemolytic anaemia causes release of iron into the bloodstream, raising the blood levels of iron. If you provide extra iron supplements to your child, the levels can get too high and may also reach to a toxic level.
Cholesterol is vital for normal functioning of the neurons and its deficiency can cause nerve problems like multiple sclerosis and peripheral neuropathy. If you suffer from a low cholesterol level, diets rich in fats should be included. But these should only have the traditional sources like coconut oil and olive oil. Other vegetable oils should be avoided.
Green leafy vegetables should be consumed regularly as it will ensure proper supply of vitamins and minerals to the patient. Also focus on variety in your diet. Do not stick to a particular vegetable. For example you can include lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach, etc.
Many carbohydrate diets like sugars, syrups etc require G6PD and therefore should be avoided in any processed forms. Any products containing such products should be avoided. Also, G6PD deficiency patients are more prone to developing diabetes. So, it is important to avoid carbohydrates from that point of view also.
Filed in: Lifestyle