'Tainted' powder milk growing breasts in Chinese babies

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New Delhi, Aug 9 (ANI): When three female infants in China were born with an abnormal sexual development, their parents blamed the manufacturer of the milk powder they had been using, but experts have been able to trace the source even further back in the food chain.

According to the Beijing-based Health Times, in July, worried parents took their children to local hospitals in Wuhan for physical examinations and found that the babies' breasts were developing, the China Daily reported.

When medical tests were carried out it was found that the hormones estradiol and prolactin in the babies exceeded those of the average adult woman.

The report said, the babies, who range in age from four months to 15 months, had been fed the same batch of infant formula produced by Syrutra, a Qingdao-based company.

"The high amount of hormones in the babies definitely means there is a problem," Yang Qin, chief physician at the child health care department of Hubei Maternal and Child Health Hospital, said.

"The parents should stop using the formula to feed their children and the powder should be analyzed," Yang stated.

When one parent requested that the formula be tested, the local administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine refused on the grounds that it only conducts tests for organizations, not individuals.

In response to the issue, Syrutra posted a statement on its website over the weekend.

"We solemnly declare that the products produced and sold by Syrutra are safe. No man-made 'hormones' or any illegal substances were added during production," the statement read.

Wang Dingmian, former chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, said it was highly possible for baby formula to contain sex hormones, though the source of the contamination needed to be traced back to the milk.

He added that it does not mean the formula did not contain any hormones, saying that the substance might have entered the food chain when farmers were rearing the cattle.

"Since a regulation forbidding the use of hormones to cultivate livestock has yet to be drawn up in China, it would be lying to say that nobody uses it," he added.

Although Syrutra declared that all of its raw materials were imported from overseas, Wang said it is possible there are loopholes in the current system, since China does not require raw materials imported for processing to be tested for hormones.

"It's reasonable to suspect the milk formula as a cause of the babies' early maturity given their simple diet. It is also possible that the mothers may have ingested the hormones during their pregnancies," he stated. (ANI)

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