Can a G6PD Deficiency, High Bilirubin Level or Kernicterus Cause Cerebral Palsy?

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) is the most common enzyme deficiency worldwide and is when the body doesn’t have enough of the enzyme G6PD to help red blood cells (RBCs) function normally. This deficiency can cause an elevated bilirubin level or neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, acute hemolysis, chronic hemolysis or chronic hemolytic anemia.

G6PD deficiency should be considered in newborns that develop a high bilirubin level or hyperbilirubinemia within the first day of life. If a high bilirubin level or kernicterus is not diagnosed and treated right away, it can cause destruction to an infant's brain and lead to cerebral palsy (CP) and other neurological problems. If the bilirubin level is elevated enough, the baby may require phototherapy (light therapy) or an exchange transfusion.

Children with G6PD deficiency may not show signs or symptoms of the disease until their red blood cells are exposed to certain triggers such as infections, fever-reducing medications, antibiotics and certain antimalarial drugs. Other substances that seem to trigger G6PD deficiency are fava beans and naphthalene, a substance found in moth balls. Once the trigger is removed, the symptoms resolve. If G6PD deficiency is not diagnosed and the trigger remains, the child could go on to develop a hemolytic crisis or severe anemia. Prolonged and untreated anemia in a child could lead to physical, mental and developmental delays.

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley cerebral palsy law firm, we understand that a baby or child who has a G6PD deficiency can developed a high bilirubin level, kernicterus, or chronic and severe anemia that can lead to a brain damaged infant, cerebral palsy and other neurological or growth problems. Our specialized medical malpractice teams consist of physicians and neonatal intensive care nurses who understand that infants with high bilirubin levels may require certain treatments to prevent infant brain damage. If your child suffered brain damage or developmental delays due to an undiagnosed or untreated G6PD deficiency, please feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers, physicians, or nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.

With the right treatment and precautions an infant or child with a G6PD deficiency can lead a healthy and productive life.