G6PD deficiency

An X-linked disorder that affects the chemistry of red blood cells, making them prone to damage by infectious illness or certain drugs or foods. Red blood cells are missing G6PD (the enzyme glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase). The disorder most often affects southern European and black men. Women are unaffected but can carry the abnormal gene. Some antimalarial drugs and antibiotics can precipitate destruction of red cells in affected people. In one form of G6PD deficiency called favism, affected people are sensitive to a chemical in broad beans, which they must avoid eating. After taking a precipitating drug or food, or during an infectious illness, a person with G6PD deficiency develops the symptoms (see anaemia, haemolytic). G6PD deficiency is diagnosed with a blood test. There is no particular treatment but symptoms caused by a drug or food can be relieved by avoiding it.


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