Outraged parents are demanding an official inquiry into why a kindergarten in Xian, capital of Shaanxi , fed prescription flu medicine to hundreds of pupils for months, perhaps years.
The parents have accused the school of supplying the children daily doses of the antiviral drug moroxydine hydrochloride without their consent.
The principal and operator of the Fengyun Kindergarten, plus another school were in custody, city officials said yesterday.
"My son has been suffering from stomach ache, vomiting and sleepwalking after attending the kindergarten for years," a distraught mother told the South China Morning Post. "Only now have I found out that he was drugged and he was not the only one. I'm heartbroken."
The mother is one of more than 500 desperate parents who claim their children have suffered similar symptoms including headaches, body pains and itching. Other children have reported more severe problems including stomach ache, swollen genitals and kidney problems.
Most of the pupils have attended the private Fengyun Kindergarten, affiliated with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, for several years.
The Xian government announced that another kindergarten, Hongji, which is also run by the same operator, might also be involved in the case.
It said that in the past two days police had detained the operator, Fengyun's principal and resident doctor for criminal investigation, while placing Hongji's principal, vice-principal and resident doctor in custody, as well.
The scandal surfaced last Friday after a parent discovered an untaken pill on her six-year-old daughter. The parent discovered the pill is given through prescription against flu, such as H1N1.
Parents said that the kindergarten probably administered the drug to ensure the children's attendance, as nursery fees were charged based on the number of days attended.
An earlier version of the story identified the kindergarten's name as "Fengxun". It should be "Fengyun".