Studies uncover health impacts of melamine consumption

Nearly six months after the San-Lu tainted milk powder scandal in China broke drawing New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra into a public health crisis, studies are beginning to emerge that look at the impact melamine had on the young children who consumed it in milk formula given to them.

Ingesting tainted-milk led to the deaths of at least six Chinese children and kidney stones and urinary tract problems in as many as 300,000 others.

The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published today, looks in particular at the development of urinary tract stones in children under the age of three years. It found that Children exposed to high-melamine formula were seven times as likely to have stones as those exposed to no-melamine formula. Preterm infants were 4.5 times as likely to have stones as term infants.

Another study published last month in the World Journal of Pediatrics concluded that long-term follow-up of infants and children fed with melamine-contaminated milk products is required, and food safety should be supervised increasingly for the health of children.

The Chinese Government announced late last month that it would undertake an extensive epidemiological study to gauge the impact of melamine on public health. It will base the research on interviews with parents of children who were screened in Shanghai hospitals and found to have kidney stone or urinary problems.

Picture: Ultrasound image showing Urolithiasis (urinary tract stone) in a one year old girl who consumed melamine-tainted milk powder..

A backgrounder on urinary tract stones.

Further Information
To talk to New Zealand urologists about urinary tract stones, please contact the Science Media Centre on tel: 04 499 5476 or email:

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