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Semin Perinatol. 2004 Oct;28(5):356-64.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency: a hidden risk for kernicterus.

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Department of Neonatology, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem.


Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficiency, a commonly occurring enzymatic defect, is an important risk factor in the pathogenesis of severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Many of the recently reported cases of kernicterus, even in countries with a low overall incidence of the G-6-PD deficiency such as the United States and Canada, have been found to be enzyme deficient. In many cases the hyperbilirubinemia may be due to acute hemolysis precipitated by exposure to an identifiable chemical trigger, or to infection. In other cases the hemolysis may be mild, the hyperbilirubinemia being due to diminished bilirubin conjugation. An interaction between G-6-PD deficiency and promoter polymorphism for the gene encoding the bilirubin conjugating enzyme, UDP-glucuronosyltranferase 1A1, associated with Gilbert syndrome, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of hyperbilirubinemia. Neonates whose families originated in areas at high risk for G-6-PD deficiency should be vigilantly observed for jaundice. Phototherapy is the mainstay of treatment, with exchange transfusion being performed in those unresponsive to phototherapy. A high degree of physician awareness is essential in the identification and follow-up of these high-risk neonates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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