G6PD Deficient Babies
G6PD Deficient babies have some special dietary restrictions, but, please don’t panic, these restrictions can be a blessing to your family. For many parents it is a surprise and because it is something they don’t understand, it tends to be scary. As you will see after reading this website, although it will take some adjustment, your whole family can live a healthier life by following our suggestions.
First, it is not the end of the world and your baby can live a rich, healthy, full life, but there are some things your baby will need to do, or more correctly, not do. He/she will need to avoid what we call triggers. These are things that cause hemolysis. G6PDD people live normal lives until they come into contact with one or more of these triggers. They are in four categories. Foods, drugs, some chemicals and infections (flu, colds, etc.). For right now, lets concentrate on what you need to do for your newborn.
Most of the things newborn babies are likely to be exposed to come from their food. Breast feeding is the very best way to feed your baby but it means that mommy needs to avoid the same things that the baby needs to avoid. And, if your baby is a boy, mommy needs to avoid those things anyway as she also has G6PDD. See Women and G6PD Deficiency for more information.
So, lets talk about what you need to know.
If your baby was either born jaundiced (yellow skin) or became jaundiced shortly after birth, the jaundice needs to be taken care of immediately. Babies are put under special lights to fix it. If it is bad enough and you don’t take care of it quickly, it can cause kernicterus (brain damage or death)27,28,29.
Jaundice is caused by red blood cells dying, which is caused by one or more of several things. Vitamin K shots can cause it. Something the mother ate or a drug she took can cause it. Stress from birth can contribute to it as well. Check all foods the mother is eating and drugs she is taking against the following two lists. Drugs to Avoid and Foods to Avoid. Stop eating or taking anything on these lists immediately. The list of legumes is the most daunting, but basically it is all beans, peas, lentils, soy and peanuts. There are just a lot of different varieties and names for these items. Soy will be the hardest to avoid as they put it in everything.
Remember I told you that following our suggestions for your baby could help the whole family? Well, it turns out that things that cause hemolysis in people with G6PDD (oxidative stress or free radicals) also hurt normal people. Free radicals can cause aging and some kinds of cancers for example.
By far the best milk for a baby with G6PD Deficiency is breast milk. The mother should avoid ALL contraindicated substances while breast feeding and also during pregnancy. See below.
Unfortunately, not all mothers can breast feed, which can complicate matters for a G6PD Deficient baby. We have researched every baby formula we know about and ALL of them have contraindicated substances in them. Usually either soy or ascorbic acid or both. If you are unable to breast feed your baby we recommend fresh goat’s milk as an alternative. You may supplement with vitamins, but unless specifically told to do so by a physician, we suggest moderation. More is not better. Natural (not man made) vitamin C is much better than ascorbic acid. Introduce solid foods as soon as your physician will allow it.
If you are unable to get fresh goat’s milk, canned goat’s milk will work. If neither of them are available the next best would be fresh cow’s milk and then evaporated (NOT CONDENSED) cow’s milk. Evaporated milk should be diluted with an equal amount of water.
The best solid foods for your baby are those that you prepare yourself. If purchasing baby food from the store, be sure to check the ingredients carefully for soy products and other things on the avoid list. Many times soy is disguised as lecithin or vegetable broth. To prepare baby food yourself, put food that you cook in a blender or mash with a fork. It is a bit more trouble, but the food will be much better for your baby.
Some Good First Foods
First foods should be a single ingredient and can be given as soon as six months old. Ask your doctor for verification. Homemade foods are MUCH better and you have control over the ingredients. Salt and sugar should never be added to baby foods. Here are some examples.
Rice cereal has been a staple first food for a long time. To make it, simply grind cooked organic whole grain rice in a blender or food processor and thin with some breast milk or goat’s milk.
Avocados and bananas are also great first foods and they are simple to prepare and contain folate, which they need for blood production. Just remove the meat and mash with a fork. Add breast milk or goat’s milk to thin or rice cereal to thicken.
Pears, yams/sweet potatoes and winter squash are prepared by steaming or baking until tender and then processing in a blender or food processor. Add a bit of breast milk or goat’s milk to thin or rice cereal to thicken. Be sure to cool to warm before serving.
Apple can be made into applesauce by peeling, coring and cutting into chunks. Just cover with water and boil until soft. Be sure to stir often and do not use aluminum pans. Drain, reserving water, and puree. Add some of the reserved water to thin or rice cereal to thicken. Serve lightly warm. Canned applesauce can also be used if it contains only apples or apples and water and nothing else.
Fevers and Your Baby
One of the most common questions many new mothers have is how to treat their baby who has a fever since the medicines traditionally given to children with a fever are on the Drugs to Avoid List. There are so many myths about fevers and how they are bad for us and our children. I get so many questions about this that I posted an article about it. You can read the article Fever Myths.
For some tips on how to deal with a fever as well as answers to many other questions, see our FAQ page.
Pregnant or Nursing Mothers
It is very important that you avoid ALL contraindicated substances while pregnant with or nursing a potentially G6PD Deficient baby. Be sure to eat lots of antioxidants as well.