Friday, September 26, 2008

Melamine Poisoning in Children

Melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde (also shortened to melamine) is a hard, plastic made from melamine and formaldehyde by polymerization. This plastic is often used in kitchen utensils and plates, often called melamine wares. It may also used as table lining such as formica. Being fire resistant, it has been made into fibres of fire resistant clothes that firemen use.

Aside from common commercial uses, melamine became a topic of much discussion in early 2007, when veterinary scientists determined it to be the cause of hundreds of pet deaths, because of pet food contamination. Prior to these reports, melamine had been regarded as non-toxic or minimally toxic. However, because of the unexplained presence of melamine in wheat gluten added to mass-produced dog and cat foods, it is the most likely cause. Pet owners report symptoms that are commonly associated with renal failure, which could be explained by the ammonia that may result from the digestion of the melamine.

Time magazine 17 September 2008 mentions “the material — in powdered form — has also come into use by certain unscrupulous food companies as a cheap and abundant filler substance for products ranging from livestock feed to pet food — and now, apparently, to baby formula. In some tests used to determine the nutritional value of a foodstuff, melamine shows up as a protein — so manufacturers can use the compound to make their products appear more nutritious. Melamine is not toxic, but inside the body it can cause kidney stones and renal failure.” The FDA database concurs.

Another Time report 16 September 2008 states that “On September 17, Chinese Health Ministry authorities announced that over 6200 babies had fallen ill, many developing kidney stones, from drinking milk made from toxic powder. At least three have died, and more than 50 remain in serious condition. Officials have said the number of victims could climb, the China Daily reported. Chinese authorities say the milk powder, produced by Chinese dairy giant Sanlu Group, was contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in making plastics. Melamine has been illegally added to food products in China to boost their apparent protein content.” The company started recalling its product on 11 September 2008, a too little, too late to save those who have died and countless others who will suffer kidney problems now or in the future. It was suspected that the company has received complaints about their milk in December 2007.

Sanlu Group has issued an apology statement (English version-google translation) and shut down their website till further notice.

The World Health Organisation has this to say:-
What are the health effects of melamine consumptions in humans?

While there are no direct human studies on the effect of melamine data from animal studies can be used to predict adverse health effects. Melamine alone causes bladder stones in animal tests. When combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, melamine can form crystals that can give rise to kidney stones.

These small crystals can also block the small tubes in the kidney potentially stoppingthe production of urine, causing kidney failure and, in some cases, death. Melamine has also been shown to have carcinogenic effects in animals in certain circumstances, but there is insufficient evidence to make a judgment on carcinogenic risk in humans.

What are the symptoms and signs of melamine poisoning?

Irritability, blood in urine, little or no urine, signs of kidney infection, high blood pressure.

What is the treatment for kidney stones and kidney failure?

Patients may receive various types of treatment, depending on the severity of the kidney effects. Treatment may include infusion of fluids and urine alkalinisation, correction of electrolyte and acid-base disturbance, haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, or surgical removal of kidney stones.

Dr Alex Tang has seen a few children brought in by parents who are afraid their children has melamine poisoning (he practises paediatrics in Malaysia).

His advice is:-
(1) There is no need to panic. Most infant formula in Malaysia are sourced from Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Check with the local papers to see if your children have been drinking milk that are on the banned item list.

(2) Eating from melamine plates and bowls do not cause melamine poisoning.

(3) Bring your child to see a doctor only if your child has been drinking milk on these banned list in the last twelve months. It is not necessary for you to bring your child if your child has drunk a glass of the ‘banned’ milk or eaten a White Rabbit candy ten years ago! (Johnny Ong has eaten this candy many times before too ............ aaaaarrrrggghhh!!)

(4) Your doctor may suggest a urine test if he or she suspects anything. The urine test is a good screening for injury to the kidneys.

Keep up with the latest with google news.

Related posts -
* Malaysia Slow in Responding to Tainted Milk Products
* Food Linked to China's Milk Scandal
Tags: Melamine Poisoning, Melamine Resin, Melamine Formaldehyde, China, FDA, World Health Organisation, Baby Formula, Infant Formula, Protein, Sanlu Group, Kidney Failure, White Rabbit Candy

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10 Comments:

Anonymous cc said...

The san lu milk scandal is rolling big over here as the nz dairy giant fonterra has a 43% share in the china company. Apparently they discovered the incident a month ago but fight to get it recalled to no avail. They finally went to NZ government for help and informed the china central government to uncover the whole thing.

The nz government is trying to help the board of nz directors over in china from being prosecuted. The thing is, being such a major shareholder themselves, how could they not know about it earlier?!

26 September, 2008 13:29  
Blogger Kay Leaf said...

White Rabbit Candy... When i was still children, my mom give it to me whenever i cry. *sigh* will the side effects come out after i old?

26 September, 2008 14:42  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

cc - hmmm more things for me to write abt now

kay - maybe it works, the melamine in it blocked those glands that produces water for yr tears temporarily hehe

26 September, 2008 15:02  
Anonymous cbenc12 said...

rabbit candy also my fav last time :D

26 September, 2008 17:41  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

cbenc - i think i have to call our min. of health telling to focus more on the adults. the adults are the ones who have taken more of those milky things all this while since those days ..... aiyoh

26 September, 2008 18:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we trust this safe list when its just warranties (guarantees) from the milk product companies and not actual lab tests certification ??? read here http://consumersrighteousness.blogspot.com/

26 September, 2008 23:53  
Blogger bZbee said...

try cooking maggi mee in a boiling water (do not add ingredients/flavouring yet)..separate maggi and water...leave water in pot and let to dry...u'll se a layer of plastic residue on top...is that melamine too? cos i always separate my cooked noodles and use fresh boiling water as the soup...i'll never ask another person to prepare my noodles :p

27 September, 2008 06:57  
Anonymous john said...

I have been following this story closely on news channels. Now they are saying that some products in US might have been affected by these Chinese products used in their production. what a scare.

please keep posting updates on your blog.

John
Dallas

28 September, 2008 00:50  
Blogger Lim Choon Line 林俊麟 said...

Don't worry of melamine poisoning if you consumed White Rabbit Candy many years ago.

At that time the milk product manufacturers didn't know they could use melamine to camouflage high protein content yet.

03 October, 2008 16:58  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

anonymous - we can trust those local websites as they have extensive biz in msia. one report on tainted products will definitely erode that trust once and for all so i dont think they'll take that risk

bzbee - tat's the correct way to cook maggi mee and all kinds of mee

john - hey john, thks for dropping by. the issue seems to be under control and hopefully new evidences are not being suppressed

lim - hahaha but i'm sure lots of ppl in msia have consumed that during chinese new year

07 October, 2008 08:45  

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