G6PD Deficiency

Did you know that 1 out of 60 newborns have been diagnosed with G6PD Deficiency in the Philippines as of 2020? G6PD Deficiency is a genetic disorder that causes a deficiency of the G6PD enzyme that helps replenish substances that protect our red blood cells from oxidative damage. The lack of this enzyme makes our red blood cells prone to damage when triggered by infection, certain foods and drugs. Newborns may appear normal or healthy until they get sick or ingest a trigger food or drug. Thus, it is important to do the Expanded Newborn Screening for parents to be aware as soon as possible and to be watchful of the following symptoms:

• Paleness or yellowish discoloration of the skin
• Dizziness or Headache
• Rapid and strong heartbeats
• Weakness
• Abdominal pain
• Tea colored urine

These are symptoms of hemolysis where red blood cells burst or get damaged due to a trigger substance or infection. The child must be brought to the doctor and the trigger must be stopped or avoided to prevent aggravating the condition. Currently, there is no cure for G6PD. Thus, the only strategy is to prevent all triggers. Here are some pointers that you should remember if you or your child has G6PD:

Is Breastfeeding Safe for Infants with G6PD Deficiency?

Yes. Breastfeeding is safe for infants with G6PD deficiency. Even though several substances can be transmitted through breast milk, the amount may be too small to be transmitted unless the baby develops symptoms. In this case, the mother must also avoid the trigger food while breastfeeding.

Drugs to be Avoided

• Always inform your pediatrician or doctor that you have G6PD deficiency so your medications can be adjusted

Chemicals to be Avoided

• Methylene blue
• Arsine
• Phenylhydrazine
• Toluidine blue
• Trinitrotoluene
• Aniline dyes

Foods/Drinks to be Avoided

• Fava beans: Can be found in Ding dong nuts, Mr. Bean
• Red wine
• Legumes: Abitsuelas, Garbanzos, Kadyos, Munggo
• Blueberry
• Soy Food Items: Taho, Tokwa, Soy Sauce
• Tonic water
• Bitter Melon or Ampalaya

Other Substances to Avoid

• Menthol
• Camphor
• Naphthalene
• Parabenzene dichloride / dichlorobenzene: Can be found in some toilet deodorizers
• Henna
• Herbs: Cattle gallstone bezoar, Honeysuckle flower, Chimonanathus flower, 100 % pearl powder, Figwortflower, Acalypha indica

In general, foods that are not included in the list are safe to eat but it is helpful to have a personal list of triggers in terms of foods and medications because every individual may have a different sensitivity to oxidative substances. It is also important to let your pediatrician or doctor know that you or your child have G6PD deficiency so they won't prescribe a drug that may trigger hemolytic anemia. Keep a list of the things to avoid or visit the Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC) website at for brochures and for more information about G6PD deficiency.



• Newborn Screening Reference Center (2020). Fact Sheets: Information for Doctors about the Disorders included in the Expanded Newborn Screening Panel. Newborn Screening Reference Center. Retrieved from

• National Institutes of Health-Philippines (2017). Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency Brochure. Newborn Screening Reference Center. Retrieved from