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Indian kids die after eating this fruit on empty stomach


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More than 100 children mysteriously died in northern India last year after reportedly eating lychees on an empty stomach. A new research has finally explained how the tropical fruit caused seizures and sudden deaths to children.

Indian kids die after eating this fruit on empty stomach

For more than 20 years, supposedly healthy children in the town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, India would start showing symptoms of fever around May and June every year. They would have convulsions and seizures and eventually slip in and out of consciousness.

About 122 of the 390 children who exhibited symptoms of the killer illness they dubbed as “tinsel disease” died in 2014.

In the new report published in The Lancet Global Health, it was revealed that most of the victims were poor children who ate lychee that had fallen on to the ground in the orchards. These children woke screaming in the night before having seizures and losing consciousness. They also suffered acute swelling of the brain.

After comparing the blood and spinal fluid samples of children who developed the illness and kids who had not, the researchers suggested that the victims were poisoned by the fruit.

Their findings showed children who suffered the illness were almost 10 times more likely to have eaten the lychee and 6 times more likely to have visited a fruit orchard in the last 24 hours before they fell ill compared to children who didn’t develop the disease. They also discovered that those who developed the disease were twice as likely to have skipped their dinner.

Urine samples showed that about two-thirds of the victims were exposed to hypoglycin and methylenecyclopropyl glycine, toxins that are found in higher levels in unripe fruit.

Lychees contain hypoglycin, a toxin which inhibits the body’s ability to produce glucose. Apparently, the fruit affected young children whose blood sugar levels were already low because they skipped dinner.

Researchers also found a link of the disease to an outbreak of sickness caused by ackee fruit among children in the Carribean. The fruit also contains hypoglyxin.

With their findings, health officials have warned parents to make sure young kids eat dinner and limit the lychees they were eating. Children suffering the same symptoms should be treated immediately for hypoglycaemia.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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