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Belgian man acquitted of drunk driving as his body creates it's own alcohol: What is auto-brewery syndrome

Also known as gut fermentation syndrome, ABS is a condition in which the body turns sugary and starchy food into alcohol, causing symptoms similar to that of a drunk man.
Last Updated : 24 April 2024, 12:06 IST
Last Updated : 24 April 2024, 12:06 IST

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A Belgian man was acquitted of drunk driving on April 22 because he suffers from auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), a rare condition whereby the body produces alcohol, his lawyer said.

Anse Ghesquiere told Reuters that in "another unfortunate coincidence" her client works at a brewery, but three doctors who independently examined him confirmed he suffered from ABS.

What is auto-brewery syndrome

Also known as gut fermentation syndrome, ABS is a condition in which the body turns sugary and starchy food into alcohol, causing symptoms similar to that of a drunk man.

"Auto-brewery syndrome or gut fermentation syndrome is a condition in which ethanol is produced through endogenous fermentation by fungi or bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) system, oral cavity, or urinary system," as per the National Library of Medicine.

In other words, while yeasts and fungi feed on sugars and starch and convert them into energy, the process also creates waste in the form of carbon dioxide and ethanol(alcohol).

Its symptoms include being drunk without drinking alcohol or getting very drunk with only a little alcohol. Dizziness, headache, dehydration are a few among several other symptoms of the condition.

As per the National Library of Medicine report, people with diabetes, obesity, and Crohn disease are more likely to get ABS. However, it can occur in healthy individuals as well.

Many medical reports suggest that people who suffer from ABS should avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Lisa Florin, clinical biologist with Belgian hospital AZ Sint-Lucas, explained that people with the condition produce the same type of alcohol as the one in alcoholic drinks but that they generally feel less of its effects.

She added that people are not born with ABS but can get it when they already suffer from another intestine-related condition.

(With Reuters inputs)

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Published 24 April 2024, 12:06 IST

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