6 Things To Avoid If Your Child Has G6PD Deficiency

6 Things To Avoid If Your Child Has G6PD Deficiency

In this article, we examine some G6PD deficiency foods to avoid, and other things you and/or your child should stay away from, in case of this condition...

G6PD deficiency is a genetic disorder that affects males of African origin (it also affects males of Asian and Mediterranean descent). It happens when the body doesn’t have enough of an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), which is responsible for keeping red blood cells healthy. There are also certain G6PD deficiency foods to avoid that we will describe.

Most people who have G6PD deficiency are healthy, but sometimes fever or certain medicines and foods can break down their red blood cells (haemolysis) and cause anaemia. This is called haemolytic anaemia, a form of anaemia that occurs when the red blood cells are broken down faster than usual.

In this article, we examine some G6PD deficiency foods to avoid, and other things you and/or your child should stay away from, in case of this condition.

G6PD deficiency foods to avoid

If you (or your child) are suffering from G6PD deficiency, these are some trigger foods you need to avoid:

1. G6PD deficiency foods to avoid: Fava Beans

The primary food to avoid is fava beans. In fact, G6PD deficiency is also called favism.

Consuming fava beans (also known as broad beans) has been proven to trigger haemolytic anaemia in those with G6PD deficiency.

g6pd deficiency foods to avoid


In fact, ingestion of any part of the fava bean plant, including inhalation of fava bean plant pollen, can cause haemolytic anemia in G6PD-deficient individuals. Before triggering haemolytic anemia, consumption of fava beans by those with G6PD deficiency can also cause other acute symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Also, if you use gluten-free flour, do make sure that it does not contain fava bean flour.

Since fava beans belong to the legume family, it has also been advised that all legumes (such as peas, lentils, or peanuts) be avoided for those suffering from this condition. But this has not been scientifically proven.

Do note that, you should avoid eating fava beans (broad beans) and their products, if you are breastfeeding and your baby has been diagnosed with G6PD deficiency, 

2. G6PD deficiency foods to avoid: Bitter Melon 

Bitter melon is another food that is best avoided by those who are G6PD deficient, as it contains the same compound as fava beans that can cause haemolysis.

Though it’s not commonly consumed due to its bitter nature, some supplements made from bitter melon are popular in treating diabetes. Hence it is best to avoid them too.

Vitamin C supplements

According to a study, high doses of vitamin C can lead to the destruction of red blood cells and cause haemolysis in G6PD-deficient persons.

The study did not have any warnings for those eating citrus fruits or other foods high in vitamin C, but stressed about avoiding Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements.

Avoid THESE Western medicines

These medicines have been known to trigger red cell breakdown, and should hence be avoided by those with G6PD deficiency. Breastfeeding mummies should let doctors know about their child’s condition before consuming them:

  • Aspirin
  • Antibiotics such as:
  1. Nitrofurantoin
  2. Nalidixic acid
  3. Sulfamethoxazole
  • Antimalarials such as Primaquine
  • Antispasmodics such as Phenazopyridine

Stay away from mothballs

Mothballs can contain a chemical known as naphthalene which can trigger haemolysis in people with G6PD deficiency.

(Source: Department of Health, Hong Kong, Live Strong, VeryWell Family)

This article was republished with the permission of theAsianparent Singapore.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are personal and belong solely to the author; and do not represent those of theAsianparent or its clients.

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Africa parent