What is Causing Breast Growth in Chinese Toddlers?

Father of toddler in central China, one of four toddlers to exhibit early breast growth.

When was the last time you checked the ingredients in your baby’s formula?

A mystery is unfolding in the central area of Wuhan and the capital of Beijing in China, where 4 formula-fed babies and toddlers began growing breasts. Tests showed abnormally high levels of estradiol and prolactin in the baby’s blood. Could it happen in the Middle East, where formulas have been retracted before?

Israel saw infant deaths in 2003 when a run of Remedia brand soy formula lacked Vitamin B1. And in February of this year, dangerous bacteria led to a recall of batches of formula manufactured in Turkey and marketed in Middle Eastern countries.

Tainted milk led to the deaths of six infants in China in 2008. 300,000 babies developed kidney stones from the addition of melamine, a cheap substance that mimicked milk protein in quality tests.

It’s assumed that the breast development in China is related to infant formula, although analysis of the formula did not uncover excess hormones. AOL reports that contrary to early claims, not all of the affected children drank the same type of formula. Still, the manufacturers may have bought raw ingredients from the same source.

Hormones fed to cows could be the cause of the problem (although estrogen would inhibit milk production), as could foods that the mothers ingested during pregnancy. Other environmental problems may also contribute to the cause.

Hormones, pesticides and antibiotics in our food supply can cause health problems that are not easy to track and formula-fed infants who eat the same manufactured food every day are most vulnerable to problems.

Sometimes the effects are obvious, such as when a vitamin is missing. At other times, well-designed studies are needed to uncover risks of formula feeding that include higher chance of developing diabetes, ear infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses.

While pesticides consumed by humans also find their way into breastmilk, breastfeeding continues to be the best way of ensuring quality control for the smallest members of the planet.

Image source: Time

Information source: Time and AOL

Related Green Posts by Hannah Katsman:

Breastfeeding and Keeping Up with Supply and Demand

Breastfeed Your Baby in a Hijab: Public Breastfeeding in the Middle East

Ten Kid-Friendly Foods Using Leftovers

About Hannah Katsman

Hannah learned environmentalism from her mother, a conservationist before it was in style. Once a burglar tried to enter their home in Cincinnati after noticing the darkened windows (covered with blankets for insulation) and the snow-covered car in the driveway. Mom always set the thermostat for 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 Celsius) — 3 degrees lower than recommended by President Nixon — because “the thermostat is in the dining room, but the stove’s pilot light keeps the kitchen warmer.”Her mother would still have preferred today’s gas-saving pilotless stoves.Hannah studied English in college and education in graduate school, and arrived in Petach Tikva in 1990 with her husband and oldest child. Her mother died suddenly six weeks after Hannah arrived and six weeks before the first Gulf War, and Hannah stayed anyway. She has taught English but her passion is parental education and support, especially breastfeeding.She recently began a new blog about energy- and time-efficient meal preparation called CookingManager.Com. You can find her thoughts on parenting, breastfeeding, Israeli living and women in Judaism at A Mother in Israel.Hannah can be reached at hannahk (at) greenprophet (dot) com.

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