Fizzy drinks blamed for swollen mouth epidemic

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FIZZY DRINKS may be to blame for the world's worst epidemic of oral Crohn's Disease, which has struck in the west of Scotland, researchers claim.

Dental experts believe an allergic reaction to carbonated drinks could be the cause of the outbreak of the incurable illness. Crohn's Disease normally attacks the bowel but almost 500 Scots, most of them children, have developed an oral form; 88 per cent of them live on the west coast of Scotland.

This compares with just 40 cases of oral Crohn's Disease in the United States.

Professor David Wray, professor of oral medicine at Glasgow Dental Hospital, told Scotland on Sunday that the disfiguring condition results in grotesquely swollen lips.

"The thing most striking is that the vast majority of them have the concurrent factor of a sensitivity especially to preservatives and flavourings.

"It is accurate to say that in terms of the prevalence of the disease there seems to be an epidemic in the west of Scotland compared to the UK and the rest of the world. We have got over 400 patients here whereas there are only 40 in the whole of the US."

Researchers at Glasgow Dental Hospital believe it may be caused by an allergic reaction to preservatives found in fizzy drinks as well as bacteria found in milk.

An extensive study into the epidemic has been conducted and experts now say that people living in the west of Scotland have a genetic predisposition to developing the allergic reaction with leads to the oral disease.

It causes swelling of the lips and facial tissue, a characteristic inflammation of the gums and a cobblestone texture on the inside of the mouth.

Recent studies show that children suffer bullying and psychological damage as a result of their disfigurement.

Oral Crohn's Disease was first discovered in 1969, although it was found only in patients who also suffered from the more common Crohn's Disease of the gut. However, the Glasgow scientists have found that only 80 of their 440 patients have the disease in both the gut and the mouth.