Hospital gave newborns wrong milk powder

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am

Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital is investigating why 17 newborn babies were given an unsuitable milk powder formula in promotional gift sets from a US pharmaceutical company.

A batch of 400-gram Wyeth Progress Gold sets containing powder intended for children aged one to three were distributed to the babies from October 19 to 24, a hospital spokeswoman said. The hospital had not spotted the error until a father from the mainland called.

The hospital has contacted the parents of 13 of the children and is trying to notify the rest.

A hospital spokeswoman said most of the parents were from the mainland. She knew of three babies, all from the mainland, who had taken the formula but without any apparent ill effects.

She said labels on the cans said it was suitable for children aged one to three years old, and she urged parents to check them before use.

The Department of Health called on parents of babies discharged from the hospital in the period who were given gift sets to contact the hospital.

A department spokesman said it had instructed the hospital to trace all recipients, conduct a thorough investigation and stop giving out free breast-milk substitutes. He said it was a practice of the hospital to give out gift sets containing a tin of the brand of milk formula that the baby had been fed while in hospital.

The hospital spokeswoman said there had been no studies to prove there were long-term consequences from short-term consumption of an unfit formula by healthy newborns.

Hospital hotlines, 63589729 and 22767407, have been set up.

Medical Association president Dr Tse Hung-hing, a paediatrician, said that short-term consumption by newborns of such milk powder would not cause significant harm, but long-term it could cause kidney failure as it contained extra protein that young babies could not digest.