OBJECTIVE:

To document the patterns of bilirubin and hematocrit values among glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-deficient and G6PD-normal Nigerian neonates in the first week of life, in the absence of exposure to known icterogenic agents.

METHODS:

The G6PD status of consecutive term and near-term neonates was determined, and their bilirubin levels and hematocrits were monitored during the first week of life. Infants were stratified into G6PD deficient, intermediate, and normal on the basis of the modified Beutler’s fluorescent spot test. Means of total serum bilirubin (TSB) and hematocrits of the 3 groups of infants were compared.

RESULTS:

The 644 neonates studied comprised 353 (54.8%) boys and 291 (45.2%) girls and 540 (83.9%) term and 104 (16.1%) near-term infants. They consisted of 129 (20.0%) G6PD-deficient, 69 (10.7%) G6PD-intermediate, and 446 (69.3%) G6PD-normal neonates. The G6PD-deficient and G6PD-intermediate infants had higher mean TSB than their G6PD-normal counterparts at birth and throughout the first week of life (P < .001). Mean peak TSB levels were 14.1 (9.48), 10.2 (3.8), and 6.9 (3.3) mg/dL for G6PD-deficient, G6PD-intermediate, and G6PD-normal neonates, respectively. Peak TSB was attained on approximately day 4 in all 3 groups, and trends in TSB were similar. Mean hematocrits at birth were similar in the 3 G6PD groups. However, G6PD-deficient and -intermediate infants had higher declines in hematocrit, bilirubin levels, and need for phototherapy than G6PD-normal infants (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

The G6PD-deficient and G6PD-intermediate neonates had a higher risk of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and would therefore need greater monitoring in the first week of life, even without exposure to known icterogenic agents.

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