Several months ago, my husband and I read with growing horror the breaking news stories about the melamine contamination scandal in China. For those of you not as familiar with this topic, just know that milk collecting stations around China added melamine to milk to disguise the fact that manufacturers were watering down said milk.
Throughout October 2008, as the media firestorm continued to grow, the public discovered that some dairy industry companies placed melamine not only in milk, but also in infant formula, eggs, powdered eggs, yogurt, instant coffee, milk drinks, cookies and candy.
Melamine is a chemical substance with several industrial uses, including the manufacturing of plastics, flame-retardant fabrics, glues, concrete and crop fertilizers.
Obviously this causes great concern, especially for Chinese residents and/or those adopting from China.
Chinese-adoptees, especially those adopted more recently, may face health issues created by melamine contamination. This is relatively new territory for most health organizations. Essentially there exists no reliable toxicology information about melamine and human consumption. Symptoms and signs of melamine poisoning include irritability, blood in urine, little or no urine, signs of kidney infection (including frequent, unexplained urinary tract infections) and high blood pressure. The FDA recently released a statement declaring that,when humans consume products with high levels of melamine contamination, those individuals are at risk of conditions such as kidney stones, kidney failure and even possible death.
Most doctors currently recommend that all children adopted from China after 2004, even asymptomatic ones, should receive a non-urgent urinalysis to check for blood or crystals. Children more recently home should also receive an electrolytes/BUN/creatinine panel (to look for signs of impaired kidney function). More controversial is whether ultrasounds should be a routine screening test for asymptomatic Chinese adoptees with normal urinalysis.
Please call your doctor to discuss this matter. It's important. We did -- our daughter the Tongginator received the all-clear several weeks ago.
Useful Melamine Resources
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a comprehensive site that can act as a primary resource for concerned parents.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also posted an excellent overview of the melamine contamination in China.
The Center For Adoption Medicine details the specific and recommended tests for Chinese adoptees.
JCICS posted helpful FAQs throughout the month of October 2008.
A new Yahoo! group formed, China Milk Issue, for families who adopted from China.
The Love Without Boundaries blog lists several of their partner orphanages known to previously use the tainted formula and milk. It also lists specific levels of melamine in various formula brands.