Milk affects 1,253 Chinese children

September 15, 2008 12:00 am

, BEIJING, September 15 – A total of 1,253 Chinese children have been sickened by contaminated milk powder and 53 of them are in serious condition, the health ministry said Monday, vastly increasing previous estimates.

"As many as 10,000 infants may have drunk the contaminated Sanlu milk powder," vice health minister Ma Shaowei told a briefing in Beijing.

He said that 340 children remained in hospital, and that out of these 53 were in a serious condition.

He confirmed earlier reports in the state media that two babies had died from drinking milk powder produced by Sanlu Group. Both fatalities were in northwest China’s Gansu province, he said.

The parts of China most seriously affected by the contaminated baby formula include Gansu as well as Hebei province in the north and Jiangsu province in the east, according to another health ministry official.

The babies fell sick with kidney stones after being fed milk powder containing melamine, an industrial chemical.

It appears that the melamine was added to make it look like the milk powder was richer in protein than was actually the case.

Chinese officials said earlier Monday that private milk-collecting stations were likely at fault.

The stations pick up milk from dairy farmers, the state-controlled China Daily said.


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