ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
CANCER
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
EYE CARE, VISION
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
FITNESS
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
The Yearly Flu Shot Debate
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
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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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