Milk powder questioned for causing precocious puberty

| August 7th, 2010

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(Netease) Xiao Dan, 4 month, lives in Hankou. Xiao Xia, 9 month, lives in Hanyang. Xiao Fei, 15 month, lives in Wuchang. Living in three different towns in Wuhan, three baby girls have been drinking the same brand of milk powder; their bodies all appeared to be early maturing and began to develop breasts. Angry parents invariably pointed to the milk powder factory as the culprit. Reporters spent last week investigating, trying to uncover the truth.

Who are the victims? 4 month old baby girl started to develop breasts, estrogen level has reached the level of an adult women!

Who is responsible? Authoritarian doctors questioned the milk powder which babies have been using, but the company firmly denied, however they have already found the parents to discuss compensation plans.

Who is in charge? Parents filed complain to the Trade and Industry Bureau. The Trade and Industry Bureau told them to go to the Department of Quality Inspection, but the Department of Quality Inspection said they do not accept individual requests. When they went to the hospital, the hospital said they are not capable of conducting tests.

“If this milk powder incident does not result to any resolution, then we really do not know what to feed our children safely anymore.” parents questioned.

Experts said, “Hormone level is so high, surely there is a problem. These children’s early maturity causes concerns. Powdered milk being the sole source of food, must be stopped and tested.”

Milk powder producing company said, “The product certainly has no problems, it was released to the market after meeting the national standards. We are 100 percent confident.”

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Although she has already stopped using the formula, Xiao Fei is still very excited to see the milk powder cans

July 5, 2010, Ms Deng brought her 1 year and 3 month old daughter to Wuhan Children’s Hospital. Huddled in the arms of her mother, Xiao Fei looked thinner than other children of the same age.

Not long ago, when Xiao Fei’s grandmother was taking a bath for the baby, she unexpectedly noticed two hard lumps in baby’s breasts, the family was worried. In Jiangxia First People’s Hospital, a doctor told them everything is ok, but the two hard lumps never went away. So they went to Wuhan Children’s Hospital and found the well-known pediatric surgery expert professor Jiang Zexi for treatment.

Looking at Xiao Fei’s obvious bumped breasts, and after understood the child’s diet, Professor Jiang said in a tone of criticism, “Why are you still feeding the baby this kind of milk powder, it is very possible the formula contained too much hormone, which led to the early puberty!”

On the same day diagnose professor Jiang wrote: checked growing breasts, bloodshot genital, proposed to stop taking milk powder.

Professor Jiang’s treatment activities were recorded and televised in a television program; the program exposed the milk packaging Xiao Fei had been using. After the show, Mr. Zhang and Ms Wang suddenly became clear about their daughters’ unexplained early puberty – their children and Xiao Fei have been drinking the same brand of milk powder.

Ms Wang’s daughter Xiao Xia, 9 month old, transferred to Wuhan Children’s Hospital, also got the same diagnosis as Xiao Fei and Xiao Dan, doctor also suggested to stop using the current milk powder.

From the laboratory results, the three baby girls’ “estradiol” and “lactogen” levels are all high, the general level of estradiol for an infant should be under 5 pg/ml, but Xiao Xia reached 14.51 and Xiao Fei was up to 12.22; the normal lactogen level for an infant is between 0.08 – 0.92 ng/ml but Xiao Fei’s lactogen level is at 7.13 ng/ml.

“Hormone level is so high, surely there is a problem. Powdered milk being the sole source of food, must be stopped and tested.” Maternal Health hospital of Hubei Province, pediatric department director professor Yang Qin said.

July 12, after child’s test result came out, Xiao Dan’s family immediately changed her milk powder.

In Xiao Xia’s home, reporter found four batches of milk powder packaging. In these four batches, three of them were the same as the ones found in Xiao Dan’s home. But the milk powder Xiao Fei used was packaged in cans, the batch number only has one letter, and this letter matched with the other same batch numbers’ last letter.

Children in different regions drank from the same brand of milk powder and even the batch numbers matched, this coincidence increased people’s suspicion towards the milk powder.

Reporter asked a professional responsible for inspection and quarantine in Guangdong Province. He thought it is very possible the problem happened in the milk production chain. In order to increase lactation, the breeder will add hormones in the dairy cattle’s feeds, excess hormones may reside in the milk they produce, and being processed into milk powder.

A few days before the interview, the nutrition department representative of the company of this brand milk powder went to Wuhan, and went to both Xiao Fei and Xiao Xia’s homes.

July 15, they carried fruits to Xiao Fei’s home and claimed to come to see the child. Xiao Fei’s mother asked, “We are not relatives nor friends, who do you want to see my child?”

They agreed to be recognized as representatives of this brand of milk powder company, and tried to give Xiao Fei’s mother 2,000 yuan. Xiao Fei’s mother refused, “if the milk powder has no problems, why do you give us money? The health of my daughter does not only worth 2,000 yuan, and not even 200,000 yuan can buy!”

They heard the number 200,000, thought it was the amount the family was asking for and said they need to go back to discuss… Since then, only a few days later, Xiao Fei’s mother received a phone call from the headquarters of the company, asking if the family was asking for 200,000 as compensation.

A finance website interviewed the most accused milk powder brand – Shen Yuan Milk Powder Company PR Zhang Yungjiu. She said, there had been similar reports by the distributors, but not sure if it has anything to do with the company. She personally leaned from the internet that consumer will send the product for testing.

Zhang said, all the raw materials for the products of Shen Yuan Company are imported from overseas, during which they have gone through double testing from the exporting country and importing country, in order to meet the highest inspection standards.  “Baby’s precocious puberty can have many causes, but it is definitely not the consumption of the milk powder. Our products definitely have no problems, we are 100 percent confident.”

Same milk powder brand, even the batch numbers are the same, plus the suspicious acts of the company representatives, parents could not help but to think the milk powder is to blame.

Wuhan Children’s Hospital Endocrinology and professional academic leader, director of the hospital central laboratory Yao Hui said, “Precocious Puberty is a very complex disease, we cannot conclude that milk powder has problems just because three children drank the same brand and also had the same symptoms.” She believes there needs to be scientific proofs.

“The only way is to test the milk powder, to see if it contains estrogen, in order to know the truth.” Professor Yao Hui said.

Three babies’ parents had filed complains to Trade and Industry Bureau. The Tread and Industry Bureau told them to go to the Department of Quality Inspection, but the Department of Quality Inspection said they do not accept individual requests. When they went to the hospital, the hospital said they are not capable of conducting the tests. The parents felt there is no place that accepts their complains.

As of August 5, reporter received replies from the readers: a 10 month old baby girl in Jiangxi Province, an 8 month old baby girl in Shandong Province and a 3 month old baby boy in Guangdong Province were all tested with excessive estrogen, and they had been drinking the same brand of the milk powder since they were born.

The Chinese Association of Food Nutrition and Safety Health Care Professional Committee urges relevant departments to test the milk products as soon as possible and to give the consumers a direct response.

China Agricultural University, Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety head professor He Jiguo said that although the present case is still relatively small and is difficult to make a convincing case, but for each baby girl the matter really affect their growth, should not be neglected and ignored. Three baby girls, aged at 4 months, 9 months and 15 months, their diet is mainly milk powder, other factors may also lead to precocious puberty, but the formula remains the primary investigation interest.

29 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Larry says:

    Why don’t parents just buy FRESH milk??

    • Couple of factors at play: One, refrigeration is still a premium item in large parts of P.R. China; Two, transportation of liquid milk vs. powder still favors powder.

    • s says:

      why didn’t any parents thought of that! youre so smart. i think if you shared this idea earlier, no babies would of died. *rolls eyes*

    • Teneal says:

      Fresh milk is less digestible to infants and doesn’t contain the necessary nutrients for development. The intention of powdered infant formula is that it mimics the nutritional qualities of breast-milk. Unfortunately, these brands seem to mimic the state of the adult female body rather than milk… how could they possibly get the formula THIS wrong? Bizarre.

      • Topaz says:

        The problem is simply that farm animals are given growth hormones so that they grow up earlier, or the cows produce more milk and this goes into meat and milk. They do it in North America too but in China it probably isn’t as regulated so the cows are probably loaded with it. In North America the age of puberty is much earlier than it used to be.

    • LOLer says:

      because babies cannot digest them properly, some are lactose intolerant. there are instances wherein unlike adults, baby’s bile is not strong enough to kill bacteria of fresh milk formulas, leading to diarrhea and constipations. powdered milk are often UHT’s in sanitized factories to kill off potential bacteria. lastly, babies have poor digestion that is why baby foods are often mashed, soft, liquid, porridge types

  2. Hate to say it but… red envelopes are still casting a large shadow across the government inspection groups.

  3. shenmeniao says:

    could be a knock off product, could be a bad batch.
    I always thought chinese were so enthusiastic about milk powder because of the extra nutrients like dha in it.
    Im stunned there hasnt been a conclusive lab analysis yet. you would think leading milk powder producers would have a marketing field day with this kind of tom foolery

  4. o.m.g. says:

    once a chinese always a chinese…

  5. M says:

    What kind of culture poisons its own babies? Repeatedly.

  6. Panda says:

    I noticed that it is always milk powder.. why aren’t these babies getting breast fed?

    • s says:

      1. some woman can’t produce too much milk
      2. when mothers get sick and feed their babies breast milk, the babies get sick too
      3. saggy boobs are not attractive, one of the main reasons why woman want dont want to breast feed. they either stop after a few months or don’t feed at all.

  7. Joel says:

    It’s sad that usually it’s only foreigners and richer Chinese who can afford imported milk powder. These kinds of things hit the 老百姓 the hardest, who necessarily buy cheaper domestic brands.

    Here’s a couple of strategies we uncovered for reducing the chances of poisoning your baby in China: Foreign baby in China essentials: IMPORTED BABY FORMULA

  8. malagebi says:

    Chinese girls developing breasts? Why is this a problem? 3 months old, 15 years old, better to grow boobs young than never. They might want to invest in diapers instead of those crotchless baby pants once the babies start menstruating.

  9. Crystal says:

    2000 yuan as compensation? Are they kidding?

  10. Carl says:

    lol again?

  11. xino says:

    lol…farking conspriacy!

    it is to do with the food. Since I noticed that year 2000 born children, they all mature so fast! This can be noticed especially in USA.
    Now this in China which is telling me something that the government is behind this. I mean literally Chinese people are always skinny, no breast etc. Using this feeding method, they are planning to change how Chinese people would look.

    So by the time it’s 2014, post generation kids will all look more mature at young age.
    This is even a bad thing because looking mature at a younger age may grant you benefit and stuff but when you get to 40, you’ll look like 60years old.

    Same with Japanese people, now i’m starting to see them with big breast and stuff:/

    • Topaz says:

      It’s well known that the growth hormones fed every kind of farm animal ends up in meat and milk. Yes in North America too, it’s no mystery. You make a chicken grow faster, you can kill it and sell it faster. The average age that girls began to menstrate used to be 17. Now it is 12,and getting lower.
      I’ve also noticed that in the last few years kids are looking like adults at like 12 or 13. I know it wasn’t like that when I was 12.
      Apparently taking growth hormones can make you look younger though. I read something about it and I think it replaces collegen faster.

  12. aaaaaaaa says:

    let me see those breasts

  13. SDS says:

    They might have struck it rich and found a new breast enhancement formula… That’s a lot of money in that type of patent…

  14. Taojas says:

    The price of “milk” itself and esp infant “milk powder” formulas in China is exorbitant to say the least and this is not all to do with supply and demand. The production of just about any service or product in mainland China, nay – The whole Chinese Industrial system itself is heavily depenent on shamelessly cutting corners and willfully avoiding any and all mandated “regulations” or “standards” to fully maximize profit. Look deeper into some Chinese agricultural and animal-husbandry practices and you won’t be surprised. Granted these practices- such as adding hormones into livestock feed – are widespread world-wide (refer etc…) – but the Chinese Industrial system really takes it to the extreme. This and numerous other controversies (including the Sanlu controversy) really show that Human health is secondary to profit.

  15. Taojas says:

    Refer “Food.Inc”

  16. CBC says:

    One family should take the 200,000 and use it to get the powder tested then the rest can launch a class-action law suit and maybe some one will be shot for this.

    Just my 2 cents

  17. xray says:

    We are forgetting something here, a crucial piece of evidence, a picture of the titties.

  18. Maki says:

    I feel a little guilty for saying this, but it’s true. Don’t have a baby if you can’t afford to have one. If the only way to keep your child healthy is to buy expensive imported milk powders, then do so. Don’t have a baby if you know you can’t afford it. China is populated enough as it is.

  19. 在中国 says:

    Hey hey, wait a bit until the World Expo in Shanghai is over. Then maybe somebody will get killed by the government, so no officials need to be blamed for yet again closing their eyes on contaminated milk powder.

    Have you already forgotten how to handle these issues? Same as during the Olympic Games only two years ago.

  20. RootBeerKing says:

    ““If this milk powder incident does not result to any resolution, then we really do not know what to feed our children safely anymore.” parents questioned.”

    Jeez…You have breasts for a reason! Friggin’ use them and feed your babies something healthy for a change!

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  1. Milk Powder Questioned for Causing Precocious Puberty | China Digital Times (CDT)
  2. Memo of 2010 health incidents | ChinaHush
  3. China’s “Tainted Milk” Comes Back Again | USC Annenberg China Media
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