Health

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Imaginechina via AP
Crowds of Chinese parents holding their babies who were fed with Sanlu milk powder wait
for examination at a hospital in Chongqing, China, Sept. 18
2008. (AP)

Chinese Milk Scare Hospitalizations Triple

October 09, 2008 04:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Chinese government now says that 47,000 children have been hospitalized so far due to tainted milk—triple the number reported a few weeks ago.

New Figures Released

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The Chinese ministry offered a partial update of its official victim figures, which were last released on Sept. 21, when the official number of children hospitalized for melanine poisoning was at 13,371, reported Agence France-Presse.

Currently, 10,666 children remain hospitalized, while 36,144 have been allowed to return to their homes.

Thousands of others have received outpatient care, but a health ministry spokeswoman told AFP on Thursday that they do not have updated figures on outpatients. On Sept. 21, it was reported that 39,965 children received outpatient care.

Ministry officials also said that while they do have updated figures for the total number of children affected so far by the milk scare, they will not make the information public.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that according to its analysis of local media reports across China, the number of affected children has reached almost 94,000—almost double the number of the ministry's last official count.

Despite the alarming numbers coming from all parts of the country, Chinese officials say that the epidemic is under control and that melanine has not been found in liquid milk in recent tests.

Background: Chinese milk scare

The FDA has recalled Chinese candies, instant coffee and tea because they contained milk products potentially contaminated with a harmful industrial chemical called melamine. Although Utah officials ordered all store owners to take the products off the shelves, Utah was not listed on the FDA press release as a state that sold the product, causing some confusion.
The manufacturer of White Rabbit candy, the Bright Food Group, began investigating its product after the officials in Singapore warned consumers against buying the candy because it contained melamine.

The laboratory tests found that the candies contained more than the permissible 135 parts of melamine per million.

After thousands of infants in China became sick from contaminated formula, a worldwide concern over Chinese milk products developed. Some countries banned dairy imports from China, but at the time, authorities had only begun to consider the possibility that other products, such as candies, cakes and creams would also be contaminated.

Related Link: Chinese Pet Food and Toy Scares

In 2007, investigators found the Chinese manufacturers had been deliberately adding melamine to pet food, causing the deaths of some pets. The product was added to falsely boost the results of protein tests for the product.

Later that year, parents reacted with alarm as Chinese toys were recalled in massive numbers. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered that 4 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys contained a chemical that, if ingested, can turn into the date rape drug GHB, a chemical that can induce seizures or a coma. At least two children fell into a comatose state after coming into contact with Aqua Dots.
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