Alternate Names : G6PD Deficiency
Glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an inherited disease that can cause anemia, or a low red blood cell count.
What is going on in the body?
G6PD deficiency occurs when a person doesn't have enough of an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase. This enzyme is important in metabolism. Red blood cells, which carry oxygen, don't get enough energy when G6PD is lacking. The red blood cells die too soon in this condition, which can cause anemia. Anemia can be mild or severe and is often triggered suddenly by illness, foods, or certain medications.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
G6PD deficiency is inherited on the X chromosome. The X chromosome helps determine whether a person will be male or female. This disease is therefore called "sex-linked" and usually only occurs in men. This is because men only need to inherit one abnormal gene to get the disease. Women, on the other hand, have to inherit two abnormal genes to get the disease. In the US, a mild form of G6PD deficiency is very common in blacks. Those from the eastern Mediterranean region are at a higher risk for a more severe form of G6PD deficiency.
Sudden attacks of G6PD deficiency, or a hemolytic crisis, can be caused by:
any serious illness
fava beans, in the more rare forms of G6PD deficiency
sulfa medications, such as sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic
certain medications used to treat malaria, such as primaquine
nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic
aspirin, which doesn't usually cause a problem in people with the common form of G6PD deficiency