Two-year old Hospitalized after Eating Rice with MSG as Viand

While the island of Negros is known as the land of sugar, many of its people are suffering from hunger and poverty. A two-year old boy ate the meal prepared by his sister, rice with monosodium glutamate or MSG, because there was no salt. After a few hours, he was rushed to a hospital and has been confined for more than a week now. This is a glimpse of the situation of hunger in the island.

Volume VIII, Number 27, August 10-16, 2008

BACOLOD CITY – For lack of anything to eat, a two-year old boy ingested monosodium glutamate or MSG. He has been confined at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Hospital since then.

On July 29, Ryan, not his real name, was with his three siblings in their home in Bgy. Makiling, Sagay, Negros Occidental. Both of their parents were out selling ice cream sticks for a living. The eldest son, 12 years old, was also out salvaging scrap metal to sell to augment the family income.

It was lunch time and the eldest sister aged nine prepared food. They had rice but there was no salt available; the girl used MSG as substitute.

A few hours after eating, Ryan got dizzy and eventually passed out.

In an interview, Jennylyn Labajo, Ryan’s mother, related that they brought Ryan to the Bato District Hospital. The next day, their son was transferred to the Corazon Montelibano Memorial Hospital. The boy is confined at the Surgery-Pediatrics Section of the hospital.

Ryan’s doctor was not available for interview. The label on his bed indicates that he ingested MSG and also suffers from rabies.

His mother told Bulatlat that the boy was bitten by a dog a day before he ingested MSG.

Jennylyn said she had no choice but to leave her children at home so she could help his husband earn a living. She earns P70 ($1.578 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.34) a day while her husband earns P100 ($2.25) from selling ice cream sticks. During rainy season, their combined income is smaller.

Jennylyn related that they pay P200 ($4.51) for monthly rent. Their former house was destroyed by the last typhoon. They also cannot afford to send their children to school. Her five children have not yet been registered.

Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary general of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) said that MSG ingestion could affect a child’s kidney and liver.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 2.5 grams of MSG may cause headache, muscle tightness, numbness/tingling, general weakness, and flushing.

In an article posted by the, Dr. George J Georgiou and Barbara Karafokas of DaVinci Natural Health Centre, Larnaca, Cyprus said that MSG is toxic to humans and that over 25 percent of the world’s population suffers from adverse reactions from MSG.

The same article states that neuroscientists believe that the young and the elderly are most at risk from MSG. “In the young, the blood-brain barrier is not fully developed, exposing the brain to increased levels of MSG that has entered the bloodstream. The elderly are at increased risk because the blood-brain barrier can be damaged by aging, by disease processes, or by injury, including hypertension, diabetes, hypoglycemia, and stroke.”

Hunger, malnutrition

Ryan’s case is just a glimpse on the extent of hunger and malnutrition in the country.

According to government data, Negros registers an annual rate of 8.89 percent in malnutrition.

The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showed that the total hunger in the Visayas rose to 19.7 percent. Severe hunger is pegged at 3.3 percent.(

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