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Background: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is an inherited enzymatic disorder associated with severe neonatal hyperbilirubinemia and acute haemolysis after exposure to certain drugs or infections. The disorder can be diagnosed phenotypically with a fluorescent spot test (FST), which is a simple test that requires training and basic laboratory equipment. This study aimed to assess the diagnostic performances of the FST used on umbilical cord blood by locally-trained staff and to compare test results of the neonates at birth with the results after one month of age. Methods: We conducted a cohort study on newborns at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, along the Thai-Myanmar border between January 2015 and May 2016. The FST was performed at birth on the umbilical cord blood by locally-trained staff and quality controlled by specialised technicians at the central laboratory. The FST was repeated after one month of age. Genotyping for common local G6PD mutations was carried out for all discrepant results. Results: FST was performed on 1521 umbilical cord blood samples. Quality control and genotyping revealed 10 misdiagnoses. After quality control, 10.7% of the males (84/786) and 1.2% of the females (9/735) were phenotypically G6PD deficient at birth. The FST repeated at one month of age or later diagnosed 8 additional G6PD deficient infants who were phenotypically normal at birth. Conclusions: This study shows the short-comings of the G6PD FST in neonatal routine screening and highlights the importance of training and quality control. A more conservative interpretation of the FST in male newborns could increase the diagnostic performances. Quantitative point-of-care tests might show higher sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of G6PD deficiency on umbilical cord blood and should be investigated.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Research


F1000 Research Ltd

Publication Date





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