Tainted milk feared to have killed another baby

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 January, 2009, 12:00am

Authorities in Zhejiang province are investigating the sudden death of a two-month-old baby, which may be connected to drinking tainted milk formula.

Li Junjie fell ill on Saturday afternoon, shortly after being fed milk formula produced by Guangdong Yashili Group.

The baby was taken to TCM Hospital Changxing, in the north of the province, early on Sunday, but died before dawn.

The cause of death has yet to be determined, but local media reported that the child's family had lodged a complaint with police as they suspected the death was due to the milk powder.

Authorities are testing samples of the formula fed to the baby, and samples of the same brand taken from the shop where it was bought.

Last year, formula produced by 22 companies nationwide using substandard milk adulterated with melamine, an industrial chemical, killed at least six children and made more than 290,000 ill. Many of the children developed kidney stones and some suffered kidney failure.

A spokesman for the Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau in Changxing county confirmed the department was looking into a possible link to the milk formula.

'We sent the milk powder samples to the Zhejiang Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau for inspection on the evening of the baby's death, and are waiting for the result,' he said.

A spokesman for Yashili said the company was in 'active co-operation' with local authorities looking into the incident but stressed there was still no evidence linking the death to the milk powder.

The Oriental Morning Post newspaper in Shanghai quoted the baby's father, Li Zhengshan , as saying the child had been fed milk powder only during the first two days after he was born and had been breastfed until last week.

However, when Junjie's mother came down with a cold in the middle of last week, they switched back to the Beingmate brand of milk formula. They started using the Yashili milk on Saturday morning, and around 4pm Junjie began vomiting, had an episode of diarrhoea and cried incessantly. Although he eventually fell asleep, the symptoms returned at around 4.30am.

'It was after 5am by the time we got the baby to the hospital. He had no heartbeat and wasn't breathing,' the newspaper quoted Mr Li saying.

A spokeswoman for TCM Hospital Changxing said no one was prepared to comment on the case.

However, the newspaper quoted an unidentified staff member in the hospital's paediatric ward saying that an autopsy would be needed to determine if the baby's death was linked to the milk formula.