What are the complications of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency?

Updated: Feb 19, 2019
  • Author: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Most persons with G6PD deficiency are asymptomatic. Symptomatic patients can present with neonatal jaundice and acute hemolytic anemia. [6, 7]

Kernicterus is a rare complication of neonatal jaundice, [15] but can occur in certain populations and can be fatal. Other mechanisms may contribute to hyperbilirubinemia in G6PD deficiency, such as an underlying defect in uridine diphosphoglucoronate-glucuronosyltransferase, the enzyme affected in Gilbert syndrome.

Acute episodic hemolytic anemia can occur due to oxidant stress induced by exposure to certain drugs or chemicals (including some anesthetic agents [16] ), infections, ketoacidosis, or the ingestion of fava beans. [13, 17, 18, 19] Chronic hemolysis occurs in severe G6PD deficiency. Fatality rarely occurs.

G6PD deficiency appears to be a risk factor for the development of diabetes mellitus. A systematic review and meta-analysis by Lai and colleagues of publications involving involving 949,260 persons with G6PD deficiency found an odds ratio (OR) of 2.37 (95% confidence interval 1.50-3.73) for diabetes. The risk was higher in men than in women (OR 2.22 versus 1.87, respectively).

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