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Too Much Boba? Doctors Say Large Amounts Of Tapioca Starch Can Be Hard To Digest

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Can you have too much boba? For one 14-year-old in China, the answer is yes. She had to be hospitalized after more than 100 tapioca balls were found stuck in her stomach.

"They're just fun to eat. They're squishy. They have different flavors. They kind of feel like squishy eggs in your mouth," one boba drinker, Jarom Horner, said.

Boba tea shops have been popping up all over the country. The bobas, or bubbles, are made of tapioca starch.

"It is a chewy sweet texture. I feel like it adds a little cherry on top of your drink," Alyssa Tran, with T4, said.

Doctors say it's the boba that landed a 14-year-old girl in the hospital. A CT scan found more than 100 balls in her stomach.

Doctors say a large amount of Tapioca starch can be difficult to digest.

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"Wait. I thought that stuff is safe. I eat that stuff all the time," Horner said.

Doctors say, in moderation, it is safe.

"We definitely do love our boba but we wouldn't drown ourselves in it," Tran said.

That's when the problems start. If you have you multiple drinks over a short period of time.

"The starch binds with each other. They'll have more than one drink and as it's binding it an obstructive phenomena in any part of the digestive tract," Dr. Daniel McCrimons said.

So, if you don't give your body enough time to break down the starch, it will congeal together.

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"Then you see this constant spasm developing. They have constipation, tremendous abdominal pain and then they have to go to the emergency room," Dr. McCrimons said.

The tea itself does have health benefits. Antioxidants can help lower your risk of heart disease. It's the boba you don't want to overdo.

"I definitely think boba is a dessert. It's kind of like eating 8 cakes in a day. You definitely just want to keep it in moderation. Keep it to a slice, two slices," Tran said.

The girl who was hospitalized is okay. After the CT scan, she was given laxatives and sent home.

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