ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
CANCER
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
CAREGIVING
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The melamine-tainted infant formula in China that sickened more than 50,000 kids last fall resulted in more than 10 percent of the youngest ones developing kidney problems, according to just-released Beijing research on the scandal.

About 20 percent of melamine-exposed infants in Taiwan and 10 percent of those who drank the formula in Beijing ended up getting kidney stones. And children born prematurely had an even greater risk, concluded the authors of a study released online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine and scheduled to appear in the journal's March 12 print issue.

"We've had reports of roughly the number of children affected, but this is the first report that is more systematically looking at the ramifications of the exposure in kids," said Dr. Michael Somers, a pediatric nephrologist with Children's Hospital Boston and a spokesman for the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology. "This is from the hospital in Beijing, which is their equivalent of a big academic hospital with very good pediatric nephrology."

The children involved in the study all survived and are basically thriving after their encounter with melamine-contaminated formula, said Dr. Craig B. Langman, author of an accompanying editorial and a kidney diseases professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Less is known about the children who fared poorly. And their future remains unclear, Langman said in his editorial.

Much more study needs to be done, he wrote, "before we know whether apparently thriving children have a major ongoing health risk from previous melamine exposure through their infant formula."

Melamine is an industrial chemical found in plastics and other products. It was added to infant formula and other foods in mainland China to boost the protein content and help the products pass muster on food-quality tests.

Since September, such melamine-contaminated baby formula sickened more than 54,000 children and is being blamed for at least four deaths in Asia.

The chemical has turned up in dairy products sold across Asia and, to a lesser extent, in Europe and in the United States.

U.S. health officials decreed in early October that no amount of melamine was safe in infant formula and later set a threshold of 1 part per million (ppm), provided that cyanuric acid, a chemical relative, was not also present. For all other foods, only amounts less than 2.5 ppm are considered risk-free.

Many U.S. consumers first became aware of melamine contamination in 2007, when tainted pet food from China killed more than 4,000 dogs and cats in the United States.

For the latest study, the parents of 589 children 36 months of age or younger who were being screened for melamine exposure and for urinary tract or kidney stones filled out questionnaires about their children's condition and symptoms. The researchers, from Peking University First Hospital in Beijing, also performed various lab tests.

They found that about 9.9 percent of Chinese children who had ingested the tainted products developed kidney stones. In Taiwan, close to 20 percent developed stones. In Hong Kong, only one child exposed to melamine was reported to have developed kidney stones.

Children who had been exposed to high-melamine-content formula (more than 500 ppm) were seven times more likely to develop kidney stones than were those exposed to non-contaminated formula, the study found.

Infants born prematurely were 4.5 times more likely to develop the stones than babies born at term.

"These children were asymptomatic and had no laboratory abnormalities that we normally would associate with kidney stone disease," said Dr. Prasad Devarajan, director of nephrology and hypertension at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The big problem we think about in kidney stones is obstructions, and that was very rare. And even those who had obstruction were asymptomatic."

"We don't know what's going to happen down the line, but it's clear that the problem has been identified by the Chinese government, and they have taken the right steps to control it," Devarajan added. "I don't anticipate this to be an ongoing problem. Clinicians should be aware of the problem but should not panic."

And the message for Americans who have adopted Chinese children is, in essence, not to worry.

"In healthy, thriving kids in the U.S. who are of Chinese ancestry and may have lived in China in [the affected] provinces during 2007 and 2008, I would not do anything," Langman said. "This should not make people who've adopted Chinese infants panic."

-Amanda Gardner

More information

The American Society of Pediatric Nephrology has more information on melamine.



SOURCES: Michael Somers, M.D., pediatric nephrologist, Children's Hospital Boston, and spokesman, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology; Prasad Devarajan, M.D., director, division of nephrology and hypertension, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati; Craig B. Langman, M.D., Isaac A. Abt M.D. professor of kidney diseases, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and head, kidney diseases, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago; March 12, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine

Last Updated: Feb. 04, 2009

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