To the Editor: We wish to call attention to a needless environmental hazard from a commercial source. In his review of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (Jan. 17 issue), Beutler pointed out that infection is a more common precipitating factor in the induction of hemolysis than drugs. He did not mention one of the common presentations of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency in children — namely, hemolysis induced by exposure to naphthalene mothballs. In 1989 there were 4918 reported ingestions of moth repellents by children under the age of six in the United States. Of these, 2300 involved naphthalene, 323 paradichlorobenzene, and 2280 an unknown substance. In the past three years we have treated three children at our hospital with severe anemia (hematocrits as low as 8 percent) who had recent contact with naphthalene and were found to be deficient in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. During the same period we saw no children with severe anemia that could be attributed to glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and drug exposure.
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