Parents in Wuhan, Hubei Province, whose female infants developed premature breast enlargement after consuming a milk powder formula were frustrated Thursday after local health authorities told them the baby girls did not show symptoms of early puberty.
Medical tests determined that the three baby girls, aged between four and 15 months, developed simple premature thelarche, the medical term for breast enlargement at an early age. The lab re-ports said the symptoms do not necessarily mean precocious puberty linked to excessive female hormones, the National Business Daily reported Thursday.
The baby girls in Wuhan reportedly developed symptoms of precocious puberty after being given baby milk powder formula produced by Qingdao-based Syrutra International.
The parents said they were frustrated by the confusing information they were given on the differences between premature thelarche and precocious puberty, or they were not aware whether the baby milk powder formula contained excessive hormones.
One of the mothers, surnamed Wang, told the Global Times Thursday that the test results were unacceptable.
"We had a check-up about one month ago at the Wuhan Children's Hospital and were told our baby girl had an abnormally high amount of female hormones. But Thursday we were told by another group of experts in the hospital that the report issued to us one month ago said our daughter's female hormones are normal," she said.
Another mother, Deng Xiaoyun, said she found the test exasperating.
"This is ridiculous to us. Experts who diagnosed our babies Thursday denied the diagnosis of those who did the tests earlier," Deng told the Global Times, adding that she was at a loss for words and worried that her baby will suffer if there is another round of medical tests.
"They took four vials of blood from my poor daughter. Are they going to do that again and give us the same result?"
The hospital refused to comment on the issue Thursday.
The Ministry of Health announced that at the request of Hubei, a panel of nine experts has been set up to investigate claims of health damage, Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
After more cases of early puberty in baby girls were reported nationwide in recent days, safety standards in the domestic milk production industry were put under the microscope.
China updated its health standards for the milk industry this year, focused on the concentration of protein and bacteria in milk products. The new standards carried out on June 1 are the first serious review of the industry since 1986. However, the standard is low compared with milk safety requirements in other countries, China Youth Daily reported Thursday.
Experts said the low standard will protect the interest of milk farmers, but will also lead to deterioration in milk quality.
"We can't lower standards to ensure a balance of interests," Wang Dingmian, a dairy expert, told the Global Times, adding that the present test standards for hormones conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture are not comprehensive.
The ministry said it would check three kinds of hormones in milk powder. "We should check on all the types of hormones that could be added during the feeding process," Wang said.