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New Side Effects of Melamine-tainted Diary Products on Children’s Health Discovered

Peking University. Beijing. April 16, 2010: New side effects of the damage created by melamine on children’s health have been discovered by a group of scientists from the Institute of Reproductive and Child Health and the Institute of Population Research of Peking University. The paper titled “Urinary tract abnormalities in Chinese rural children who consumed melamine-contaminated dairy products: a population-based screening and follow-up study” has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

Contamination of Sanlu dairy products with melamine in 2008 has resulted in a widespread outbreak of children’s kidney damage in China. Melamine, commonly used in the chemical industry was deliberately added to diary products to “increase” the proportion of protein. Among 69 batches of melamine-contaminated dairy products, 11 were baby formula. Since September 12, 2008, the Chinese government had initiated various emergency responses, including the set-up of a high-level national coordinating group, free screening and treatment of affected children, thorough inspection of all dairy products and producers, along with the timely release of information. Over fifty thousand exposed children have received physical check-ups and treatment in hospital, among those, six died from kidney damage. Although diseases related to melamine have been recognized, the influence it has on health is still unknown. One the authors, Doctor Liu Jianmeng said, as the children studied are a natural sample of the children who have been exposed to the largest quantity of melamine, the overall prevalence of urinary tract abnormalities can indicate the risk for a group to have kidney damage after intensively exposed to a large quantity of melamine.

The area of the study included eight towns in Yuanshi County of Shijiazhuang City, where the Sanlu Dairy Company was located and where its dairy products were distributed. Researchers conducted an ultrasound-based screening in September 2008 on the 7933 children who were younger than 36 months of age and whose mother lived in the research area.

The study discovered that among children who underwent screening, some showed ultrasonographic evidence of nephrolithiasis or hydronephrosis while most of the affected children were asymptomatic. The majority of the affected children recovered from the toxic effects of melamine over time without specific treatment. Renal abnormalities remained in 12% of the affected children. One author said, our conclusions suggest that follow-up studies on the affected children are needed to assess the long-term effect of melamine on children’s health including the renal function.


Edited by: Connie Chang

Translated by: HAN Yafei

Source: PKU news (Chinese)