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Breast-implant warning targets pregnant women
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Medical experts are urging local women with certain types of gel breast implants to have an ultrasonic checkup before getting pregnant and even have the implants removed before pregnancy.

The warning was issued at a news briefing yesterday.

Local hospitals said they have treated dozens of new mothers suffering from breast diseases caused by hydrophilic polyacrylamide gel, or PAAG, breast implants. The gel was banned by the State Food and Drug Administration in 2006 because it can disperse and enter breast tissue and other body parts.

Officials from Shanghai Clinical Center for Drug Adverse Reaction Monitoring said many women had PAAG implants removed at local hospitals due to complications when the ban was enacted.

"Influence from the gels can be intensified during pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding because of the activation of female hormones," said Du Wenmin, vice director of the center.

Patients must go to a major hospital for the surgery, he added.

Dr Xuan Qingyuan, who works in the plastic-surgery department at the No. 455 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army, said his facility receives one or two patients every month seeking a solution to serious complications from the implants or difficulty in breast-feeding a baby.

"We have received some new mothers whose breasts became very big due to a mixture of milk and scattered gel," he said.

"It is almost impossible to remove all the implants. Experienced doctors in the big hospitals can remove 70 to 90 percent. It is important to undergo the therapy as early as possible."

PAAG technology was introduced to China in 1997. The State Drug Adverse Reaction Monitoring Center received 161 serious cases of PAAG problems between 2002 and 2005. Experts estimated that 300,000 women have had the implants.

(Shanghai Daily September 17, 2008)

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