The global prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2009 May-Jun;42(3):267-78. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


Glucose-6-phosphate deficiency is the most prevalent enzyme deficiency, with an estimated 400 million people affected worldwide. This inherited deficiency causes neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and chronic hemolytic anemia. Although most affected individuals are asymptomatic, exposure to oxidative stressors such as certain drugs or infection, can elicit acute hemolysis. To characterize the global prevalence of G6PD deficiency, we conducted a systematic review of the G6PD deficiency literature, drawing studies from various databases, including MEDLINE/Pubmed and Biosis. Selected studies included cross-sectional and longitudinal studies published between 1960 and 2008. Additionally, meta-analytic procedures were employed to assess the degree of heterogeneity amongst prevalence estimates and, where appropriate, pool them. The searches yielded a total of 280 prevalence estimates, corresponding to 88 countries. The highest prevalence rates were reported among Sub-Saharan African countries, even after adjusting for assessment method. Meta-analysis revealed a high degree of heterogeneity for regional and global prevalence estimates. This heterogeneity in reported estimates appeared to be due to differences in G6PD deficiency assessment and diagnostic procedures. The magnitude and variation in global, regional, and country-level prevalence rates of G6PD deficiency are of public health import, particularly in planning programs to improve neonatal health and in the distribution of various medications, especially antimalarial drugs, as G6PD deficiency is most prevalent in malaria-endemic areas.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, X / genetics
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency / genetics
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maps as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health