Parents of at least 197 students of a municipal school in Mumbai took them to hospitals on Friday, hours after the death of a 12-year-old girl the previous night. Reports said the children were suspected to have taken ill after taking iron and folic acid tablets administered by the school as part of a central government scheme on Monday.
A statement issued by the health officer at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation claimed the girl died “after [an] alleged history of vomiting blood”, and other students were taken to hospitals because of a “panic situation by their parents”. The girl’s autopsy report is awaited, the statement said.
The 12-year-old did not attend school on Tuesday, but was present on Wednesday and Thursday, the statement said, adding that she died on Thursday night at home. The child’s previous history of illness is not known.
BMC executive health officer Padmaja Keskar said the tablets given to the students were “tried and tested”. Keskar said the cause of the girl’s death will be known after the postmortem examination, PTI reported.
The BMC statement said the child’s death caused panic among residents around the school in Baiganwadi, after which 161 children were taken to Rajawadi Hospital and 36 children were taken to Shatabdi Govandi Hospital on Friday. Twenty-two children admitted at the Shatabdi Govandi hospital have already been sent home, the statement said.
“Most are complaining of giddiness, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain,” said Dr Vidya Thakur, superintendent at Rajawadi Hospital. They are all in a stable condition, The Indian Express quoted Thakur as saying.
The corporation’s deputy executive health officer Santosh Revankar said vomiting and giddiness could be due to other co-morbid factors in children. “We are only exploring one possibility of whether the tablet had side-effects, which is very rare...say one in 100 lakh cases,” Revankar said. “There could be multiple reasons for why the children fell ill. Until inquiry is over, we cannot comment.”
The Food and Drug Administration has collected samples of the tablets administered for testing.