A 4-month-old girl named Qiqi who refuses to drink her mother's milk has inspired an outpouring of sympathy from netizens, some of whom have even offered to try breast-feeding the girl.
Since her birth on October 20, Qiqi's weight has dropped to just 2.5 kilograms from 3.3 kilograms.
The situation has grown so serious that her mother, Feng Ying, is worried about her daughter's health and even fears that she could lose her baby.
"She seems to be fed up with any kind of liquid food, or powdered milk," said Feng, a former worker at an auto company in Guangzhou, the capital city of South China's Guangdong Province.
"I had to quit my job to look after her at home. But I don't know what I can do to help her. She eats and sleeps so little and cries all day," Feng said in an interview with China Daily yesterday.
Feng has taken Qiqi to see doctors at four local hospitals.
"They said my baby was suffering from anorexia," said Feng, adding that the baby's current diet consisted of a little gruel made from powdered milk, rice flour and water.
She said she had tried to store some of her own breast milk in a small bottle to feed her daughter since she was still in hospital after delivering the baby.
"Eventually, my daughter refused to keep drinking the stored milk. I found out later that the milk had been stored improperly, so it went band. That might be the cause of her anorexia," Feng said.
She said doctors had refused to operate on the girl because she was too light.
With her hope fading, Feng logged onto the Internet forum "Guangzhou Mama" on January 26 to seek help from local netizens.
After posting her story on the forum, messages from other netizens started pouring in. Some of them said they were willing to feed the baby with their own milk.
One mother, whose net name is Kylin, visited the baby on February 7.
"I was shocked when I saw her because she looked like one of those children who had been plagued by poverty and famine," she said.
Kylin also has a daughter, who is two months older than Qiqi.
"Normally, a child as old as Qiqi should weigh more than 5 kilograms," she said.
"We will keep calling for help from the Internet until the baby's health recovers," Kylin said.
Feng struck an equally defiant note.
"Doctors told me to give up the child, but I won't do it. You don't know how anxious a young mother is to raise a baby," she said.
(China Daily February 15, 2007)