Toxins in lychee fruit may kill children: Scientists
Lychee is a tropical fruit tree native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. However, it is now cultivated in many parts of the world.
A group of scientists from US and India found that consumption of lychee fruit on an empty stomach can result in very low blood glucose level and acute encephalopathy. This can lead to seizures and coma, and may prove fatal for Children. Lychee fruit contains the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG).
The findings were published in journal Lancet Global Health.
About lychee fruit
• Lychee is a tropical fruit tree native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. However, it is now cultivated in many parts of the world.
• China is the main producer of lychees, followed by India. Bihar in India accounts for 71% of annual production in the country.
• Since the end of the 1990s, unexplained outbreaks of encephalopathy from lychee consumption occurred, appearing to affect only children in India and northern Vietnam during the lychee harvest season from May to June.
• Later, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an investigation in India. The investigation showed that the cases were linked to the consumption of lychee fruit. As low blood sugar of less than 70 mg/dL in the undernourished children on admission was common, the CDC identified the illness as a hypoglycemic encephalopathy due to consumption of the fruit.
• Muzaffarpur, in the state of Bihar, recently saw unexplained illness in children aged 15 years and younger.
• The symptoms in children included high fever followed by seizures and death in young children. This was reported in poor socio-economic backgrounds in rural Muzaffarpur in Bihar and other litchi-growing regions in India.
• In 2014, fever and convulsions had killed 122 and hospitalised 390 children within three weeks in Muzaffarpur. All the sick children had eaten litchis without eating evening meal and had developed high fever, seizures and convulsions followed by coma before daybreak.