BEIJING — Fourteen babies have been taken to hospital in China suffering kidney stones and unable to urinate after drinking a cut-price milk powder, state press reported Wednesday. The infants, all aged below 11 months, shared symptoms including vomiting and were being treated in the same hospital in northwest China’s Gansu province, Xinhua news agency reported. “It was rare for babies to get kidney stones, let alone so many babies at the same time,” the report quoted Zhang Wei, a doctor involved with the treatment, as saying. The babies were all from remote farming regions and had all been fed the same brand of cheap milk powder, the report said, without revealing the brand name. The provincial health bureau said they had investigated the milk powder but did not reveal the overall number of babies in the region that have come down with similar symptoms.
It is not the first time alleged substandard milk powders have been linked to the health of babies in China. In 2004, 13 infants in eastern China’s Anhui province died of nutritional deficiencies after being fed substandard milk powder, the report said. In that case over 170 other babies, most raised in rural areas in Anhui, suffered from malnutrition and other symptoms including swollen heads and an inability to grow, after being fed deficient milk powders, it said. Authorities have been seeking to improve the reputation of China’s food and drug industries after scandals surrounding exports of a range of goods, from toxic seafood to fake medicine, made domestic and international headlines.