Dr Joseph Mizzi has avidly warned parents who have babies and toddlers who have never eaten broad beans before, to NOT start trying to give beans to them now. He explained that this is because they can have a condition (favism) and if they eat beans they get anemia and jaundice (and they need to go to the hospital, which is not ideal at this time).
What is Favism?
At the beginning of the bean season (March and April) every year, young children are admitted to the hospital because of a condition called favism. The name comes from “fava beans” or “broad beans” – as these children are sensitive to beans.
Favism is a genetic condition, that is, an inherited condition, that affects red blood cells (due to a low level of the G6PD enzyme, and is also called G6PD deficiency).
If these children eat beans or foods containing beans (such as couscous), they will soon become pale due to anemia, disappear due to suffering, and the urine will darken. They can also have a quick breath and leave without health.
When this happens, you will need to be hospitalised, and if necessary given a blood transfusion. After confirming the diagnosis with a blood test, thereafter they will not be able to eat beans and will not be able to take certain medicines.
Favism is not a serious condition when it comes to knowing you: it only needs to avoid eating beans and thus living a normal life.
Suggestion for parents of young children: If you are going to give the beans for the first time, start with a small amount so that if they happen to have a favism, there is no strong effect. If nothing happens thereafter you can give a normal amount of beans.