There has been some evidence that males with G6PD deficiency may be protected against severe malaria. It has been noted that the distribution of individuals with G6PD deficiency corresponds to areas in which malaria is, or has been, common. This has led to speculation that the prevalence of malaria has influenced the gene pool of populations in these areas, favoring the presence of the G6PD deficiency trait. It is possible that the frequency of malaria is lower in individuals with G6PD deficiency; however, a protective effect against uncomplicated malaria has not been conclusively verified.
Another association between G6PD deficiency and malaria is that hemolytic anemia in G6PD-deficient individuals is known to be triggered by a number of things, including anti-malarial drugs. Individuals should be screened for the G6PD defect before being treated with anti-malarials and other medications.
Last updated: 5/14/2012
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Carter N, Pamba A, Duparc S, Waitumbi JN. Frequency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency in malaria patients from six African countries enrolled in two randomized anti-malarial clinical trials. Malar J. August 17, 2011; 10:241.