How does the prevalence of methemoglobinemia vary by age?

Updated: Dec 09, 2018
  • Author: Mary Denshaw-Burke, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

Children, especially those younger than 4 months, are particularly susceptible to methemoglobinemia. The primary erythrocyte protective mechanism against oxidative stress is the NADH system. In infants, this system has not fully matured, and the NADH methemoglobin reductase activity and concentrations are low. Children between the ages of 6 and 10 years may have higher baseline levels of methemoglobinemia than adults do. [54]

Free iron deposition in the brains of sudden fetal and infant death victims has been identified as a possible catabolic product of maternal methemoglobinemia and may be a marker of maternal nicotine exposure. [55]


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