Chinese blame milk powder as baby girls develop breasts

The concerned parents took their daughters to hospitals in early July for physical examinations. It showed that the babies' breasts were developing, China Daily reported quoting the Beijing-based Health Times.

Tests revealed the presence of hormones estradiol and prolactin in the babies, aged from four months to 15 months, exceeded those of the average adult woman.

The girls had been fed the same batch of infant formula produced by Syrutra, a Qingdao-based company, the media report said.

Yang Qin, chief physician at Hubei Maternal and Child Health Hospital, was quoted as saying: "The high amount of hormones in the babies definitely means there is a problem. The parents should stop using the formula to feed their children and the powder should be analyzed."

Syrutra, however, posted a statement on its website: "We solemnly declare that the products produced and sold by Syrutra are safe. No man-made 'hormones' or any illegal substances were added during production."

Wang Dingmian, former chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association, observed that it was possible for baby formula to contain sex hormones, though the source of the contamination needed to be traced back to the milk.

"It's not likely for the manufacturers to add hormones to their products, because it won't help them sell or pass any tests at all," Wang told China Daily Sunday.

He stressed that hormones might have entered the food chain when the cattle were reared by farmers, adding: "Since a regulation forbidding the use of hormones to cultivate livestock has yet to be drawn up in China, it would be lying to say that nobody uses it."

He went on to say that it was "reasonable to suspect the milk formula as a cause of the babies' early maturity given their simple diet".

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