Child health checks ebb in milk powder scandal
Updated: 2008-10-01 16:31

SHIJIAZHUANG  -- Health authorities here said that from September 15 to midday on September 30, they examined 256,153 children who were born in or after 2006 and had been fed baby formula.

Among those, 136,275 children were fed baby formula made by the Sanlu dairy group, the company at the heart of the contamination scandal and located in Shijiazhuang.

Doctors diagnosed 3,653 children as being sickened by melamine-tainted milk, but only 58 required hospitalization, said Wen Honghai, chief of the health department of Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province.

"The work involved with offering free check-ups has turned from an emergency situation to normal," said Wen, who added that daily check-ups dropped from a peak of 42,314 babies to fewer than 5,000 at present.

The State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced on September 16 it had found the chemical melamine in 69 batches of baby milk powder produced by 22 companies nationwide. It issued a watch-list of the 22 companies and the tainted products on the same day. Authorities also halted sales of the products, including the well-known brands of Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu, Mengniu, Yili, Yashili and others.

Melamine is a chemical used to make plastics. Experts say it was added illegally to watered-down raw milk to raise the apparent protein content.

The tainted milk is known to have killed at least three babies and left 13,000 others hospitalized with kidney problems nationwide.