Two studies published this year hold the answer to the mysterious deaths of over a dozen children in a lychee orchard in Bangladesh in 2012 and around 125 children in Bihar in 2014, reports The Hindu Business Line.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene recently published a study which found pesticides were the cause for the deaths of the children working in orchards in Bangladesh in 2012.
The study done by the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research suggested that the use of various pesticides, including the banned Endosulfan, may have caused the children's brain damage and death.
According to information gathered in the study from families working in the orchards, the affected children were found to have eaten unwashed fruits, often peeling the skin with their teeth. In June 2012, 14 kids were brought to the Dinajpur Medical College hospital with severe encephalitis. 13 of the 14 children died within a day.
The study concluded that eating lychees is not linked with the illness in the case control study. The outbreak of the tragedy was on account of the children's exposure to the variety of agrochemicals in the fields.
A different Indo-US collaborative study published in Lancet Global Health in early 2017 claims that the consumption of the fruit, which can contain some naturally occurring toxins, was the reason behind the mysterious death of nearly 125 children in the orchards in Muzaffarpur, Bihar in 2014.
Researchers found that the children ate the fruit but skipped their evening meal, resulting in a sudden fall in blood glucose levels, causing bouts of seizures, comas and death in some cases.
The study was conducted by scientists from the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. The researchers studied 390 patients admitted to the two referral hospitals in Muzaffarpur between May 26 to July 17, 2014 with symptoms of acute encephalitis.