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Toxins in litchis killing children in Bihar
It might be time to give up on litchis.

A study conducted in Muzzaffarpur has concluded that the fruit litchi, especially its seeds contain certain toxins that might be the reason for children dying due to poisoning.

Muzzaffarpur, the largest producer and exporter of litchi was witnessing deaths of children due to poisoning. Researchers were perplexed as they couldn't find the reason of the poisoning. But this mystery seems to have finally been solved now.

Research has found out that the reason behind the neurological illness was mainly due to toxicity. This toxicity in litchi is a result of various factors such as humidity, heat, pesticides, etc. The research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, was conducted by team of researchers from US and India.

"Our investigation suggests an outbreak of acute encephalopathy in Muzaffarpur associated with both hypoglycin A and MCPG toxicity," the research stated.

As per the research, litchis particularly the unripe ones, contain an amino acid that affects blood glucose levels severely.

"Parents in affected villages report that during May and June, young children frequently spend their day eating litchis in the surrounding orchards; many return home in the evening uninterested in eating a meal," the research stated.

The amino acid is also found in other fruits of the same family like rambutan, longan and ackee. The researchers collected the urine samples of the children affected and they found out that two-thirds of the ill children had signs of exposure to toxins found in litchi seeds. The same toxins were found in higher levels of unripe fruits.

But what are the ways to prevent it. According to the researchers, "To prevent illness and reduce mortality in the region, we recommended minimising litchi consumption, ensuring receipt of an evening meal and implementing rapid glucose correction for suspected illness."

The researchers have also advised that in case a child is affected, he or she must be treated quickly to correct glucose levels to prevent a long-lasting damage such as mental impairment, muscle weakness and movement disorders.

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