After more than 100 children died in less than a year, Northern India dreads more death and loss for families in the future. US and Indian scientists say, it could be because of a mysterious illness.
In the region of Bihar, many healthy children are having seizures and loss of consciousness for more than two decades. Specialists were perplexed when half of these children died.
In a study published in the medical journal The Lancet
, researchers suggest the reason behind. They said it could be due to a poisonous fruit.
Lychee is a common fruit that many of us eat. However, not everyone knows it bears toxins.
According to the study, most of the victims were poor children living in India's main lychee-producing regions. The fallen kids ate fruits that had fallen onto the ground in orchards.
Because lychees contain toxins that inhibit the body's ability to produce glucose, young children whose blood sugar levels were already low because they were not eating enough, especially who skipped dinner, had blood levels dropped to fatal levels.
The children, after eating lychees on an empty stomach woke up screaming in the middle of the night, then suffered convulsions, loss consciousness, and then had acute swelling of the brain.
Researchers studied the affected children who were admitted to hospital in Muzaffarpur between May and July 2014. They learned that the cases in India are linked to an outbreak of sickness that caused brain swelling and convulsions in children in the Caribbean.
Caribbean outbreak was caused by the ackee fruit, which contained hypoglycin, a toxin that prevents the body from making glucose. Experts discovered in tests that lychees also contain hypoglycin.
Thus, health officials are now advising parents to make sure young children had their dinner before eating lychees. The parents are also being advised to decrease the number of lychees they feed to kids.