Health Highlights: Sept. 17, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008; 12:00 AM

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors ofHealthDay:

3rd Infant Dies, More Than 6,000 Sickened in China's Baby Formula Scandal

A third baby has died and the number of infants sickened in China's tainted baby formula scandal has jumped to 6,244, with more than 1,300 hospitalized, including 158 suffering from acute kidney failure, wire reports say.

The grim news Wednesday was coupled with an announcement that China's biggest dairy is one of three companies that have joined the massive recall of infant milk formula after the chemical melamine was found by health officials, theAssociated Pressreports.

Mengniu Dairy said Wednesday it's recalling three batches of baby formula made in January but didn't say how much product was included in the recall or whether any of the formula was exported,APreported.

The two other companies joining the recall of infant formula are Guangdong-based Yashili and Qingdao-based Suncare. The first recall was issued last week by Sanlu Group Co., which began receiving complaints as early as March and confirmed the presence of melamine in its infant formula in early August. Sanlu officials apologized for the delay in alerting the public but did not explain why they waited so long to take action.

Chinese officials said about 20 percent of dairy companies tested nationwide had sold products tainted with melamine, theAPreported. It's believed the chemical, used to make plastics, was added by suppliers to watered-down milk to make it appear to have a higher protein content.

Melamine from China was also at the heart of the huge pet food recall in North America last year, which sickened or killed hundreds of animals.

In response to the current scandal, 1,400 teams with 5,000 inspectors have been assigned to oversee production at all companies that make baby milk, the Chinese government said.

This is the second major scandal in recent years involving Chinese-made baby formula, theAPreported. In 2004, phony formula that contained no nutrients was linked to more than 200 cases of malnutrition and at least 12 infant deaths.

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U.S. Hospital Charges Increase to $943 Billion


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