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Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is
present in all human cells but is particularly important to the function of red
blood cells. If there is not enough G6PD (G6PD deficiency), a process called
hemolysis weakens the red blood cells. This causes them to break apart easily.
G6PD is an inherited condition that is most common in people from
tropical Africa, the Mediterranean, and certain parts of Asia. It also occurs
in black Americans.
When hemolysis happens repeatedly, it may result in the person
having too few red blood cells (hemolytic anemia). Attacks of hemolytic anemia
may occur in people with G6PD deficiency if they take certain medicines or
have infections. For some people, eating fava beans (also called broad beans)
can cause an attack.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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