China: FAQ Regarding Contaminated Milk Powder


A number of infants in China have been adversely affected by contaminated milk powder. Joint Council has created the FAQs below to answer the most frequent questions.

1) Why is this formula causing problems?

Infants have been sickened by Melamine, a toxic chemical that was added to milk to help boost the appearance of protein. Melamine is used in plastics,
fertilizers and flame retardants. It has no nutritional value but is high in nitrogen, which makes the products appear to have higher protein content
than they actually do. Suppliers to the dairy companies that produced the tainted baby formula have been accused of adding the chemical to watered-down

2) How many children are affected?

According to a survey conducted by the Half the Sky Foundation in 41 Chinese institutions, a number of children are affected, although the number is probably less than 5% of those who received the tainted formula.

3) What are the symptoms of Melamine poisoning?

The affected infants primarily have uric acid kidney stones and not interstitial nephritis. If a child is affected, the symptoms would likely be lethargy and poor feeding, along with bloody urine. For kidney stones, it would be discomfort and bloody urine, though the condition could be asymptomatic.

4) What is China doing about the problem?

The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs has been working to provide guidance to all the institutions that house infants in China. According to the Ministry, a letter was sent out to all orphanages as soon as the crisis was recognized. Orders were to have all children examined at local hospitals, and the government will cover all costs, including any necessary treatment. All orphanages using identified tainted brands have changed to either fresh milk or to a brand that has been identified as safe.

5) Which Chinese orphanages were affected?

Tianjin CWI was using Sanlu, among other brands. Forty children were drinking Sanlu and of those, 2 were diagnosed to have kidney stones.

Xinyang CWI was using Sanlu exclusively. 43 children were taken to hospital and 2 have been diagnosed to have kidney stones.

Yiyang SWC was using Sanlu exclusively. All children were taken to hospital and 5 were diagnosed to have kidney stones.

Maoming CWI was using Sanlu among other brands. All children were examined and 2 were diagnosed to have kidney stones. Nanjing, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Guiyang, Guangzhou, Luoyang, Nanchang and Qingyuan were using affected brands but the children were examined and are all right. None of the children with kidney stones is seriously ill. All are being treated. Most of the other institutions were using non-affected brands

6) What can parents do when visiting their child in China?

Those parents who see bloody urine should be concerned. If children display these symptoms in China, they can have kidney ultrasounds to see if kidney stones are present, as an x-ray would not visualize these.

7) What can parents do after returning home with their child?

In the US, a urinalysis is sufficient to identify those children at risk. If infants display symptoms, a kidney ultrasound would be advisable, along with perhaps a BUN/creatinine to look at the kidney function. Parents should consult with their adoption medical specialist.

8) What are the possible long-term effects?

If the offending agent is removed, children should not be at risk of forming new kidney stones. There is some risk of permanent injury if children have interstitial injury in addition to forming the stones.

These FAQs are NOT meant to constitute medical advice. Please always consult your medical professional. Answers to some of these questions were kindly provided by Dr. Dana Johnson, of the International Adoption Clinic, University of Minnesota.

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