Parents blame baby formula

Updated: 2012-01-13 07:40

By Zhou Wenting and Wang Qian (China Daily)

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Infant twins fell ill day after being fed newly bought product; boy died

Parents blame baby formula

The mother of twins, Cao Haijuan, holds the surviving daughter in Duchang county, Jiangxi province, on Thursday. The girl's twin brother died in a hospital after both were stricken with diarrhea and convulsive spasms. The mother said the babies were given Synutra baby formula before the symptoms began. Zhang Wei / China Daily

JIUJIANG, Jiangxi - The parents of twins claimed on Thursday that Synutra brand baby formula caused the death of a boy and sickened his sister in East China, one day before the test results of the formula are expected to be announced.

Four-month-old Jiang Jian and his twin sister Jiang Yunxin, born in Miaoxia village, Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, came down with diarrhea and a fever on Jan 6, one day after they were fed the newly bought baby formula carried the brand name Synutra, the family said. "The girl was taken to the hospital on Jan 7, and is now back home," said the 26-year-old mother Cao Haijuan.

But the boy was pronounced dead on the evening of Jan 6 after several hours' emergency treatment in Jiujiang Maternity and Infant Hospital.

Cao said the twins had been fed infant formula since they were 1 month old. Before they were given the "unsafe" formula, they had finished two cans of baby formula produced by Wondersun, a Heilongjiang-based dairy company, and three others produced by Synutra.

Cao Haohui, the twins' uncle, said he sent the milk powder sample to the Jiangxi provincial dairy quality inspection station on Wednesday, accompanied by a distributor of Synutra International, the baby formula producer, and an officer from Duchang Administration for Industry and Commerce's Sanchagang branch, surnamed Shao.

Synutra said on Wednesday that its products meet the national standards.

"As infant food, milk powder won't lead to convulsions, diarrhea, or death," Synutra said in a statement. "Many external factors can cause infant diarrhea, such as coldness and allergy."

On Thursday, the company posted on its website the test report of the batch of products they shipped - which the family claimed are unsafe. The report showed the sample of the products complied with national standards in all the 67 indicators.

"We're waiting for the results of the test," Wang Bo, the company's public relations manager, told China Daily on Thursday.

Synutra said it offers its condolences to the baby's parents and has appealed to the Ministry of Public Security to launch a serious investigation and properly settle the issue, the statement said.

Cao Aizhen, a neighbor of the family, said she held the boy in her arms the day before the tragedy. "He was very cute and plump," she said.

Cao Haijuan, the twins' mother, also insisted the children were very healthy before eating the baby formula.

The boy's death report and the girl's medical record, which were provided to China Daily by his parents, showed the boy died of "infant muggy syndrome and respiratory failure", and the girl was diagnosed with "acute diarrhea and spasms".

A doctor at the hospital, who treated the girl, said she had diarrhea, which is very common among infants.

"Nothing unusual was found in the excrement test. We cannot determine the cause of her illness," said the doctor, who declined to be named.

Products of the same batch were sealed and taken off store shelves in the county on Wednesday, said an official at the city's administration of industry and commerce, who gave his name only as Zhou.

Several mothers interviewed by China Daily said they do not know any parents who buy Synutra milk powder for their kids.

A salesman in the supermarket of Jiujiang Pacific Department Store said that brand of baby formula has not been sold for more than half a year.

"In the city's largest stores, milk powder of that brand has been off the shelf for several months," said the man surnamed Zhao. He didn't say why.

China's dairy industry suffered a heavy blow after a scandal in 2008 in which the baby formulas of many major dairy companies, including Synutra, were found to be tainted with melamine, an industrial compound used to create plastic and resin. The tainted formula led to the deaths of six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country.