Lucas has G6PD deficiency

Lucas tanning in Mount Elizabeth to bring down the Jaundice level

Lucas is back in the hospital due to climbing Neonatal Jaundice level. It’s actually very common for infants, especially Asian infants, to get Jaundice from Day 2 of birth. In layman terms, the baby’s liver is not mature enough to remove all the bilirubin (yellow pigment that’s created in the body during the normal recycling of old red blood cells) yet. This condition should peak on Day 5-9 and come down to safe level after that (as the liver matures).

Xavier doing the home photo bed treatment

Xavier also had Jaundice during his first week of birth and he was put on home treatment. We basically rent the photo bed home and “tan” him at every opportunity. The photo light will break down the bilirubin and the baby will just pee and poo it out. It’s a painless process (except for the need to poke to baby’s heel for blood to test the Jaundice level).

The main reason Lucas had to be hospitalised was because he also has a condition call Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, or G6PD deficiency in short. It’s a inherited condition where the blood has low levels of the G6PD enzyme. So what will happen is the red blood cells can break down more easily and cause jaundice (yellow appearance of skin) and anaemia (lack of red blood cells) when exposed to certain medication, chemical or food. So G6PD deficiency plus Jaundice usually puts the doctor on high alert and they usually suggest treatment in hospital (and their machine is more powerful then the home rented ones, as it “tans” from both above and below).

People with the condition lead a normal healthy life, as long as they avoid the “ban list” (at the bottom of the page of the NUH site). The most common items were moth balls and fava beans (also known as broad beans).  Moth balls and fava beans to Lucas would be like kryptonite is to Superman. And he probably have to take a different malaria pill when he goes NS in future.

The G6PD Favism Association has a FAQ on how one gets the condition. We were interested to know as both Lilian and I do not have the condition and neither does Xavier. Read at your own pleasure.

Now I like to dedicate this song to Lucas. Get well and leave the blue world soon boy.

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