Chinese children exposed to Melamine-Contaminated dairy products causing kidney damage
Although most children who were affected by the toxin melamine contaminated products in China recovered renal anomalies remained in 12% of children affected, according to an article in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) .
In 2008, dairy-melamine-contaminated dairy company Sanlu was a major outbreak of severe kidney damage in Chinese children. Melamine, commonly used in the chemical industry, was intentionally added to milk to increase protein content. Of the 69 batches of products concerned, 11 were baby formula.
The Chinese authorities announced the outbreak on 12 September 2008 and initiated product recalls, the detection and treatment programs for children affected and emergency responses. Over 50 000 children have been hospitalized and six died due to kidney damage. Although melamine related illness in humans has been recognized, any effects of the melamine remains unknown.
“The issues were, naturally, of a population living with probably the world’s highest melamine exposure, and therefore represents the estimated prevalence of the risk of kidney damage in a population that follows the high exposure to melamine “writes Dr. Jian-Meng Liu, Institute of Peking University reproductive and child health and co-authors.
The study area included 8 county towns Yuanshi city of Shijiazhuang, where the dairy is located and its products are distributed. The research study conducted in 7933 scans in children whose mothers lived in the study area that were under 3 years from September 2008.
Among children who were examined had some evidence of kidney stones and inflammation, but most of them were asymptomatic. Most affected children recover from the toxic effects of melamine in time without treatment. However, renal abnormalities remained at 12% of children affected indicating the need for further follow-up. “Our results indicate the need for subsequent monitoring of the affected children to assess possible long-term health of children, including renal function,” the authors conclude.
In a comment, Dr. Jin-Ling Tang, School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, writes that the Sanlu formula milk for infants and related technology received a prestigious Chinese science of technology and are about 8 months before announcing the withdrawal. The incident highlights some of the obstacles to achieving high-quality research in China, including the researchers to evaluate and reward, how funds are allocated for research, the negative image of Chinese research after isolated but to know the episodes of cheating, limited language skills of researchers; salaries of researchers in comparison with other professions and occupations in the country and even medical education.
“It is difficult to assess the significance and reliability of an investigation shortly after its conclusion,” writes Dr. Tang. “Giving away prizes too quickly can lead to errors, as in the case of the Sanlu baby milk.”
Stresses the importance for Chinese researchers to compete internationally and contribute, through publication in international journals.
He concludes that “although China now publishes numerous scientific articles eachyear as U.S., Chinese scientists are underrepresented at the highest level of scientific publication. This may change once these barriers are addressed.