Eating Lychee Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma: Facts


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Picture Suggesting Eating Lychee is Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma
Eating Lychee is Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma

Story: 

After 20 Years of Research it is found that Eating Lychee is Directly linked to Brain Failure & Coma
Many Children are dying in India every Year due to this Fruit.
Stop Eating Lychee Now.

Picture Warning Eating Lychee is Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma
Eating Lychee is Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma

Facts Analysis:

Certain stories doing rounds online warn people that Eating Lychee is Directly Linked to Brain Failure & Coma. They ask people across India to stop eating the fruit. The warning appears as a finding of 20 years of research, mentioning many children in India dying every year eating the Lychee fruit. The claims are partial facts.

Actual Context of Story

The fresh fruit of Lychee, litchi, liechee, liche, lizhi, li zhi, or lichee has a delicate, whitish pulp with a floral smell and fragrant, sweet flavor. The story, in most certainty, refers to mysterious Brain illness seen in hundreds of children in Muzaffarpur city of Bihar state in India. Since 1995 the young children in the city have been suddenly falling ill, having seizures and becoming unconscious, before waking up with screams, usually in the morning hours. Some of the children would slip into a coma, and about 40 percent died, often within hours. The most mysterious outbreak usually occurs between summer months of May and July. It was initially ascribed to heat stroke, or to infections carried by rats, bats or sand flies, Pesticides used widely in the lychee orchards were also suspected.

Case Report of The Lancet Global Health

A study published in 30 January 2017 issue of the British Medical Journal The Lancet Global Health looked into the association of aforementioned Acute Toxic Encephalopathy with Litchi consumption in the outbreak in Muzaffarpur. The researchers analyzed about 400 cases of children who developed the mysterious brain illness in 2014. Note, due to the Litchi-Syndrome, in mid 2014 nine children died in Malda district of West Bengal too.

The current case-control study confirmed the cause of the mysterious brain illness to be the lychee fruit, grown widely in orchards of the Muzaffarpur city. Note that Muzaffarpur is India’s largest litchi cultivation region. The study pointed the lychee fruits harvesting takes place around the same time the illnesses begin in mid-May, ending in July. Most of the children who got sick had consumed lychee fruit shortly before becoming ill, often on an empty stomach. Moreover, examination of urine samples showed that two-thirds of the sick children had evidence of exposure to two toxins Hypoglycin A and Methylenecyclopropyl Glycine (MCPG) found in lychee seeds.

More Reasons

The researchers explained the children who skipped dinner suffered drop in their blood sugar levels. The aforementioned toxins from the lychees disrupted the metabolism of fatty acids (which happens in such cases), leading to extremely low blood sugar levels, brain inflammation and seizures. They mentioned other potential factors like poor nutritional status in rural Muzaffarpur. They also mentioned about eating a greater number of lychees and yet unidentified genetic differences. Notably, there are reports of similar outbreaks in litchi-growing regions of Vietnam and Bangladesh as well.

Picture of Lychee fruit
Lychee fruit

The Hoax Information

Like the story claims, eating Lychee does not directly cause brain failure & coma. There are in fact other contributing factors explained above. The children dying every year mostly belong to Muzaffarpur city of Bihar state, not in entire India. Moreover, the researchers did not warn to stop eating Lychee. They instead recommended the children in the affected areas to limit consumption of lychees. They also advised parents to make sure their children eat an evening meal, so as to prevent cases of the illness during the “outbreak period.”

Hoax or Fact:

Partially Fact.

References:

Deadly Fruit: Cause of Mysterious Brain Illness in India is Found
Dangerous Fruit: Mystery of Deadly Outbreaks in India Is Solved


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Prashanth Damarla
Debunker

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