Food standards in China attracted much attention last year after it emerged that melamine had been added to various foodstuffs, including infant formulae, to boost their apparent protein content. The contamination coincided with an epidemic of urinary tract stones in young children (most of whom were less than 3 years old) – several babies died, and thousands more became ill. When Chinese researchers investigated a group of 589 youngsters who had been registered for urinary stone screening (a free service introduced after the contamination fiasco was discovered), they found that “children exposed to high-melamine formula were 7.0 times as likely to have stones as those exposed to no-melamine formula” (95% CI 2.1-23.0). Stones were present in 42 of the 421 infants who had ingested doctored formula, whereas only eight cases occurred among 168 children who had evidently not been exposed to melamine (Guan N. et al., New England Journal of Medicine 2009, 360, 1067; http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa0809550) {181257}. According to a brief communication in the same journal issue, a study involving over a thousand Taiwanese children (who were screened following fears of possible exposure to tainted formula), consumption of melamine-contaminated dairy products also appeared to be a “major factor” in the development of urinary stones (Wang I.-J. et al., ibid. 2009, 360, 1157; http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc0810070) {181260}.

The above item was taken from the April 2009 issue of Toxicology and Regulatory News which is sent automatically to members of bibra (click here for more details).

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