Melamine-contaminated milk formula and its impact on children Academic Article uri icon


  • The melamine contaminated milk powder contamination scandal occurred in China in 2008. Its main consequences so far have been urinary stone formation in children with associated renal damage and increased child mortality. Eight years have passed, but food safety issues still remain of concern in the daily lives of millions of Chinese. Vigilance is required to ensure no recurrence of such food safety problems. Ongoing studies focus on the early detection of food industry malpractice, mechanisms whereby these toxic substances induce disease and how its advent may be prevented and better managed. Melamine undergoes renal excretion, but is metabolized slowly and excreted largely unchanged in the urine. Urinary melamine measurement may provide a rapid and inexpensive way to identify exposure to melamine adulterated food items. Although most patients with melaminerelated urinary stones (MUS) have been responsive to conservative treatment, longer time follow-up is needed to assess chronic effects. Aside from MUS, melamine is a recognized carcinogen and can induce urinary tract tumours. Very little is known about the effects of excessive exposure to melamine contaminated milk powder in infants on growth, adolescent and adult health, although short-term effects have become apparent during the scandal.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016