Baby food accused of causing premature breast development

Beijing:  Reports that a popular infant food is causing premature development of breasts among children have sparked off fears of safety of baby food products in China.

A Chinese maker of infant formula is being accused of causing premature development of sexual organs as old as few months, state run Global Times reported on Monday.

Three babies from central Hubei Province aged four, nine and 15 months were found to be showing symptoms of breast development and abnormal levels of the growth of female hormones and it was blamed on the products of Qingdao-based Synutra International, a Chinese infant-formula company.

The baby girls from Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang in Hubei were found to have been fed baby-formula products tagged with the same lot number, produced by Synutra International, prompting parents to point fingers at one of the leading makers of powdered baby formula in China.

Deng Xiaoyun, the mother of a one-year-old girl told the newspaper that her daughter was diagnosed at the Wuhan Children's Hospital as having developed hormone-triggered premature development of breasts.

Deng said her daughter's breast began to grow as large as those of a 12-year-old girl in her neighborhood.
"At first, I thought it was a tumor. But hospital doctors preliminarily diagnosed it as symptom of sexual prematurity caused by hormones, a diagnosis backed by the results of an examination carried out by the Hubei Women and Children's Health," she said.

"I don't breastfeed my daughter. She lives on the Synutra milk power, which must be the culprit of her current condition," Deng said. "The company's agents contacted me last month to offer 2,000 yuan (USD 294) as a settlement in the matter. I refused to accept the offer. Even if it was ten times, I won't consider accepting it," she further stated.

Yao Hui, with the endocrinology department at Wuhan Children's Hospital, told the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post that it is rare for a baby girl under two to be diagnosed as "precocious".

"Authorities ought to test the samples of the dairy maker's products to confirm whether sex hormones are contained in the milk powder," he said.

Story First Published: August 09, 2010 11:16 IST

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