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ADOPTION NEWS CENTRAL
22 tainted baby formulas banned in China -- Canadian adoption agencies say, "Get your child tested"
BY ROBIN HILBORN, Family Helper editor
(Sept. 28, 2008) Hope Adoption Services in B.C. posted on Sept. 24, 2008 a letter from Bonnie Wong of Tribo Services, "Melamine in some infant formula in China" in which she listed 22 brands of infant formula containing melamine. On the list are Jingding and Sanlu brands, which are used in some orphanages. (Not all samples of the brands tested contained melamine.)
Ms. Wong had this advice for parents who have adopted from China: "If your child proposal information indicated that your child was fed Sanlu or Jingding brand formula, as a precautionary measure, you may want to take your child to do some tests. Please consult with your child's physician to determine what kinds of tests are required." She had the same advice for parents whose child proposal information did not mention the formula brand name. She added, "Apparently, well-known foreign-brand baby formulas (such as Infalac, Nestle) produced in China were found containing no melamine."
Melamine is a toxic chemical which can damage the kidneys or lead to kidney stones. Suppliers to dairy companies which made tainted baby formula have been accused of watering down milk and then adding melamine. It has no nutritional value but is high in nitrogen, which makes the milk seem higher in protein than it is. It's used to cheat on quality tests. In 2007 melamine was found in pet food made in China and exported to the U.S., where it caused the death of many dogs and cats due to kidney failure.In British Columbia Sunrise Adoption agency echoed the advice that parents should have their child seen by their doctor, whether or not they can determine which baby formula their child got in China.
In a Sept. 29 statement sent from the adoption agency Children's Bridge of Ottawa to Family Helper, executive director Sandra Forbes said it looks like only one brand (Sanlu) of infant formula has been tainted, and it has now been recalled. She assured the Group 255 families who are now waiting to travel that they are not affected -- their children in China are not being fed Sanlu formula. However it's possible that some families who recently adopted through Children's Bridge have children who were fed Sanlu formula. She had a suggestion for those whose children may have been exposed to tainted baby formula in China between December 2007 and August 2008 ... as a precaution they may want to have their child tested for potential kidney damage. Sandra Forbes attached a Sept. 25 memo from Dr. Chuck Hui at the International Adoption Clinic in Ottawa, who said he was still working on the most prudent management strategy for children with minor/chronic damage related to melamine. However there was time to build such a strategy, since if a child were to have had renal failure due to melanine toxicity, it most likely would have happened by now and also would have been clinically apparent.
Doctor recommends extra test on Chinese adopted babies -- "Please have your baby seen by a pediatrician" for a thorough examination of their kidneys, Dr. Sue Kalaher told CBC News on Sept. 25, 2008. At her clinic in New Westminster Dr. Kalaher said she has been conducting extra testing. "I'm checking them to see if they have crystals in their urine and see if they could possibly have had kidney stones, which is quite unusual but directly related to the melamine," she said. In the short term, adoptive parents should watch for vomiting, dehydration and low energy in their adopted babies, she said, but "we really don't know the long-term consequences of melamine." Dr. Kalaher specializes in foreign adoption medicine and adopted three children from China.
Chinese formula not in Canada -- In its consumer advisory of Sept. 26, 2008 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that no infant formula approved in Canada uses milk ingredients from China and that no formulas produced in China are approved for sale in Canada. CFIA surveyed about 300 stores in Canada and found no evidence of infant formulas produced in China. No illnesses like those reported in China or associated with melamine have been reported in Canada.
In the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration has similarly sampled the marketplace and after over 1,400 inspections across the country found no melamine-contaminated food products from China. Its Health Information Advisory of Sept. 26, 2008 said that FDA testing of milk-based products imported into the U.S. from China has not found melamine contamination. However it did recommend that people not consume White Rabbit candy or Mr. Brown instant coffee.
EU bans baby food with Chinese milk -- The Associated Press reported that the 27-nation European Union banned imports of baby food containing Chinese milk on Sept. 25, 2008, as a toxic chemical illegally added to China's dairy supplies turned up in candy and other Chinese-made goods. Contaminated Chinese dairy products have killed four Chinese babies and sickened 54,000.
Public Health Agency of Canada issued a Travel Health Notice on Sept. 24 which recommended that travellers not use infant formula made in China and avoid consuming milk products or products with milk-derived ingredients made in China.
World Health Organization summarized the situation on Sept. 22 in its article "Melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula in China". China's Ministry of Health reported over the weekend that nearly 40,000 children have sought medical treatment related to the consumption of melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula. Almost 12,900 are currently hospitalized. Three deaths have been confirmed as being related to contamination of infant formula. One is under further investigation. Chinese media reported at the beginning of September that Sanlu brand infant formula produced by Hebei-based Sanlu Group was contaminated with melamine. Sanlu's powdered infant formula is widely consumed by infants across China because the product is relatively affordable compared to others. Following inspections by China's national inspection agency, at least 22 dairy manufacturers across the country were found to have melamine in some of their products.