Two babies with kidney stones receive medical treatment at a military hospital in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 11, 2008. [Xinhua]
According to Gansu Provincial Health Department spokesman, YangJingke, at least 16 babies drank formula labeled Sanlu, a popular dairy brand. However, he said analysis and investigations were underway and there was no evidence at the moment that the milk powder caused kidney stones.
At least one baby in the northwest province had died as a result of kidney stones. Yang said he was unsure if the infant drank the same milk powder.
So far this year, the health department had seen 59 kidney stone cases in infants. Most of them live in rural areas of the province. There were no such cases in 2006 or 2007.
The department was made aware of the spreading problem on July 16 after a local hospital reported seeing 16 babies with kidney stones. All those babies drank the same brand of formula.
Similar numbers are popping up around the country.
The Modern Express, a newspaper based in the eastern Jiangsu Province, told Xinhua that babies also had kidney stones in Jiangsu, Ningxia and Shaanxi.
The Oriental Morning Post, based in Shanghai, reported infants in the eastern Shandong and Anhui provinces as well as Hunan, in central China, were also inflicted.
The No.1 Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University in the capital of Shaanxi Province told Xinhua on Thursday they had recorded six such cases in the past two months but all the infants had been cured and discharged from hospital.
Yin Aiping, a doctor of the Xi'an hospital, said the infants, aging from six months to 20 months from Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia, drank the Sanlu milk powder.
No official figures have been released regarding just how many babies could be sick across the country.
Parents of the affected babies said they bought the milk powder at much cheaper prices than usual.
This is not the first time Sanlu has been dragged into the headlines for a food quality scandal.
Thirteen infants died of malnutrition in 2004 in east Anhui Province after consuming substandard milk powder. Illegal manufacturers counterfeited products of Sanlu, along with other major dairy companies, which caused 171 babies to be hospitalized.
(Xinhua News Agency September 12, 2008)