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Kidney stone claims expand to Wyeth milk

SALES of Wyeth milk powder remained stable yesterday in Shanghai markets despite accusations from at least 19 families in other parts of the country that their babies developed kidney stones after consuming the US-brand formula.

The complaints, from families in Guangdong Province and Chongqing Municipality, followed similar concerns raised by 80 families about milk powder produced by Shanghai-based Dumex Baby Food Co.

Parents across the nation are on high alert after 22 dairy companies were caught in September selling infant formula contaminated with melamine, a chemical added to make diluted milk appear to contain adequate protein. Milk powder from those products was blamed for the deaths of at least six infants and kidney stones and urinary tract problems in almost 300,000 others.

Dumex's reputation was restored after health authorities confirmed its products were melamine free.

Wyeth said in a statement yesterday that it was aware of the complaints about kidney stones but said its products - all made from New Zealand and Australian ingredients - were safe.

The local quality control agencies tested 919 batches of Wyeth products after the milk scandal erupted in September, and no melamine was found, the statement said.

Products made after September were also checked by China's top quality supervisors and were free of melamine, it said, adding that no concrete evidence has been found to show Wyeth milk powder made the babies ill.

Li Xuefeng, a father of a two-year-old boy in Chongqing, said his son had been given Wyeth milk formula since birth and was diagnosed with a stone in his left kidney last September. The father said he has been contacted by at least 19 families in Chongqing and Guangdong with similar experiences.

Medical experts caution there are many causes for kidney stones. Even if a child drinks only one brand of milk powder, "it is still difficult to connect the kidney stone directly with the milk powder," said Dr Zhou Wei of Shanghai Children's Medical Center.


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