Bihar: Consuming Litchi Caused Deaths Of Hundreds Of Malnourished Children, Confirms Study

The Logical Indian Bihar

February 1st, 2017 / 4:09 PM

Litchi

Source: The Lancet | Representational Image: Indiatimes | blogspot

Muzaffarpur in Bihar had witnessed hundreds of mysterious deaths every year till 2014. The unexplained neurological illness that had claimed mostly the lives of malnourished children has been decoded by a group of scientists from the US and India. After a joint investigation, they have concluded that the illness and deaths were triggered by litchi — a tropical fruit found in Muzaffarpur — when consumed on an empty stomach.

The mysterious illness characterised by acute seizures and changed mental status has been afflicting Muzaffarpur for more than two decades. Reports of the same illness also surfaced from Malda district of West Bengal.

As the temperature soared sky-high every year in mid-May, parents took their children to hospitals, although they had been healthy the night before. In the morning, the children would wake up crying and have seizures, often slipping into comas. The cases would be at their highest in June and have been reportedly happening since 1995.


The reason behind the deaths
The researchers have found that presence of Methylene cyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG) and other chemicals in the litchi caused hypoglycemic encephalopathy when the blood sugar levels are low due to fasting or undernourishment. Earlier, encephalitis, heat stroke, infections carried by rats, bats or sand flies were suspected to be causing the deaths. The research has been published in the latest issue of The Lancet.

In 2013, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in India and the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) conducted laboratory investigations to find out about the potential infectious and noninfectious causes in 390 children who were admitted to two different hospitals in Muzaffarpur with certain neurological diseases. Out of the 390, 122 had died; 204 had low blood glucose during their admission. On questioning the parents, they said most of the children had consumed litchis and had missed the evening meal the previous day. The children who were most affected were those who stayed close to litchi orchards and consumed the fruits regularly on an empty stomach. They would spend the day eating the fruit and not eat dinner and other solid food.

While it is known that the seeds of litchi have MCPG, this study has shown that even the flesh has it as well.

“This study, to the best of our knowledge, is the largest investigation of the Muzaffarpur outbreak and the first comprehensive confirmation that this recurring outbreak illness is associated with litchi consumption and toxicity from both hypoglycin A and MPCG. We confirm the presence of MPCG and hypoglycin in litchis, and, for the first time, our data shows the metabolites of these toxins in human biological specimens, the biological impact of these toxins on human metabolism, and the modifying effect of the lack of an evening meal of the impact of these toxins,” scientists report in the Lancet study.

It must be remembered that litchis should not be consumed on an empty stomach or when one’s blood sugar levels are already low.


Contributors

Edited by :

Share your thoughts..

Related Stories

Bihar: 68 Fell Sick After Consuming Food In Hostel Run By Watchman As Headmaster Missing For Two Years

Weedicides Containing Glyphosate, Used In Farming, Can Cause Cancer; Recent Study Confirms

Uttar Pradesh Children Biscuits

Uttar Pradesh: 100 Children Fall Ill In After Consuming Biscuits At A Govt Residential School

1 In 10 Deaths Wordwide Due To Smoking, Finds Study; Tobacco Usage Is Falling In Most Countries But A Lot Of Work Remains

Biofuels

NASA Study Confirms Bio-fuels Reduce Jet Engine Pollution by 50-70%

Surgical Strike On Pakistan's Terror Launchpad

Indian Army Conducted Surgical Strikes On Pakistan’s Terror Launchpads Across LoC, Significant Damage Caused

Latest on The Logical Indian

News

MP: To Televise PM Modi’s Live Speech, 450 Cows Forced Out Of Cowshed, 8 Starved To Death

Environment

Thousands Of Dead Fishes Wash Ashore Mumbai’s Beaches After Ganesha Visarjan

News

11 Lions Die In 8 Days In Gir Forest, Officials Say Deaths Due To Infighting And Not Foul Play

Health

Doctors Must Write Prescriptions In Capital Letters: Jharkhand Govt Issues Notification

News

Disclose Names Of IIT JEE Qualifying Candidates: IIT-G Students Demand In A PIL Against ‘Super 30’ Founder Anand Kumar

News

HC Gives BBMP Time Till 24th September To Fill Up 2,172 Potholes In Bengaluru

x

Stories that deserve attention, delivered to your inbox!

Handpicked, newsworthy stories which deserve the attention of a rational generation.