Lathyrism in rural Northwestern Ethiopia: A highly prevalent neurotoxic disorder

Redda Tekle Haimanot, Yemane Kidane, Elizabeth Wuhib, Angelina Kalissa, Tadesse Alemu, Zein Ahmed Zein, Peter S. Spencer

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Abstract

Haimanot R T (Faculty of Medicine, PO Box 4147, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Kidane Y, Wuhib E, Kalissa A, Alemu T, Zein Z A and Spencer P S. Lathyrism in rural northwestern Ethiopia: A highly prevalent neurotoxic disorder. International Journal of Epidemiology 1990, 19: 664-672.Lathyrism is a disorder of the central motor system, induced by heavy consumption of the grass-pea, Lathyrus sativus an environmentally tolerant legume containing the neurotoxic excitatory amino acid beta-N-oxalylamino-L-alanine (BOAA). A complete door-to-door resurvey of the Dembia and Fogera regions of northwestern Ethiopia, areas endemic for lathyrism, revealed an estimated mean disease prevalence of 0.6%-2.9%. Most patients developed the disease in the epidemic of 1976/77, although new cases appear to have occurred with an estimated mean annual incidence of 1.7: 10 000. Production and consumption of grass-pea is increasing in Ethiopia, making attempts to develop low-BOAA strains to prevent lathyrism increasingly important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)664-672
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1990

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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