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Indian J Med Res. 2007 Jun;125(6):756-62.

Cassia occidentalis poisoning as the probable cause of hepatomyoencephalopathy in children in western Uttar Pradesh.

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Mangla Hospital, Bijnor (UP), and Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.



Recurrent annual outbreaks of acute encephalopathy illness affecting young children have been reported for several years in many districts of western Uttar Pradesh (UP). Our earlier investigations over three consecutive years (2002-2005) proved that these outbreaks were due to a fatal multi-system disease (hepatomyoencephalopathy syndrome) probably caused by some phytotoxin and not due to viral encephalitis as believed so far. We conducted a case-control study to investigate the risk, if any, from various environmental factors and also to identify the putative toxic plant responsible for development of this syndrome.


Eighteen cases with acute hepatomyoencephalopathy syndrome admitted in 2005 in a secondary care paediatric hospital of Bijnor district of western UP were included in the study. Three age-matched controls were selected for each case. A semi-structured questionnaire was developed and applied to all 18 cases and 54 controls. All interviews were conducted within one week of discharge or death of each case. Quantitative data were analyzed using the relevant established statistical tests.


Parents of 8 (44.4%) cases gave a definite history of their children eating beans of Cassia occidentalis weed before falling ill, compared with 3 (5.6% controls), the odds ratio being 12.9 (95% CI 2.6-88.8, P<0.001). History of pica was the other associated factor with the disease, odds ratio 5.20 (95% CI 1.4-19.5, P<0.01). No other factor was found significantly associated with the disease.


Consumption of C. occidentalis beans probably caused these outbreaks, described earlier as hepatomyoencephalopathy syndrome. Public education has the potential to prevent future outbreaks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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