Thursday, September 11, 2008

More babies across China suffer from kidney stones, fake milk powder suspected

An unknown number of infants in at least seven provinces and regions across China have suffered from kidney stones while doctors and parents suspected it could bea result of drinking milk powder of the same brand, according to media reports on Thursday.

The new findings were reported after Xinhua broke out the news Wednesday that 14 cases of the same kind appeared in northwestern Gansu Province.

The Modern Express, a newspaper based in the eastern Jiangsu Province and affiliated with Xinhua, said similar cases were found in Jiangsu and the northwestern Ningxia, Shaanxi and Gansu, while the Oriental Morning Post based in Shanghai said that infants in the eastern Shandong and Anhui provinces and Hunan in central China were also inflicted.

No official figures are available at this moment on how many babies in the country have been affected.

A spokesman of the Gansu Provincial Health Department said on Thursday that they had received 59 cases of kidney stones in infants so far this year and one baby died. There were no such cases in 2007 or 2006.

It is not clear if the infant drank milk formula being investigated.

Authorities are trying to figure out if there is a link between the milk powder and the kidney stones. Samples of the milk powder have been sent to a state-run lab for analysis.

Sanlu Group, a leading dairy products company in the country, said the milk powder branded Sanlu could be mislabeled. It claims someone might be counterfeiting their product and has sent people to Gansu to conduct its own investigation.

Parents of the affected babies, mostly located in remote and poor rural areas, have bought the milk powder at much cheaper prices than usual.

The No.1 Hospital of The People's Liberation Army , in Gansu provincial capital Lanzhou, received the first case on June 28, which was followed by another 13 cases later on.

However, at least three other hospitals in Lanzhou confirmed they had received similar cases in the past two months.

Doctors of these hospitals had urged local authorities to step up investigations and take possible measures to prevent similar cases.


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