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China launches nationwide study of melamine kids

LOCAL centers for disease control and prevention in Shanghai and around the country have launched an epidemiological study to help China better understand the relationship between melamine-tainted infant formula and the widespread health problems it caused.

Meanwhile yesterday, the Ministry of Health said the State Council Information Office will hold a news conference on Monday to bring the public up to date on a tainted-milk scandal that has led to the deaths of at least six children and kidney stones and urinary tract problems in nearly 300,000 others.

At least one group of parents is hoping to hear that improvements will be made to a dairy industry fund set up to provide compensation for the suffering of their children along with future medical coverage.

The leader of a group of 600 parents who have not accepted payments from the fund said the compensation amounts are not high enough or the medical coverage long enough.

In explaining the details of the epidemiological study, Zhu Qin, vice director of Baoshan District Health Bureau, said the parents of all infants who were found to have kidney stone or urinary problems during screenings by hospitals in Shanghai will be contacted. They will be asked detailed questions about their child-care practices and the health status of their children.

One parent who won't be easily mollified is Zhao Lianhai, a Beijing resident and leader of the parents group whose children have been sickened by melamine-tainted products.

He said the 600-member group sent an appeal to the Ministry of Health for more "reasonable compensation" than that provided by the 22 dairy companies who were caught putting melamine in their products in an apparent attempt to cheat protein tests on diluted milk.

Zhao, whose four-year-old son developed a kidney stone, said the ministry responded by pointing out that it has started cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology to launch the epidemiological project.

The health ministry said melamine victims can file lawsuits against the dairy producers if they refuse to accept the current compensation scheme, which offers 200,000 yuan in death cases, 30,000 yuan for infants severely sickened and 2,000 yuan for other victims.

"Many parents are not satisfied with the compensation, which is low compared with the suffering of our babies and the family," Zhao said.


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