Thursday, October 2, 2008

From the CDC - For those travelling to China soon

A Message from Nina Marano, DVM, MPH
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are interested in protecting the health and safety of all US travelers who are traveling abroad. Recently the Chinese government announced that the industrial chemical melamine was discovered in infant formula produced in China. Melamine has also been discovered in other dairy products produced in China, including frozen yogurt dessert and canned coffee drink. If consumed in high doses, melamine can caused health problems such as kidney disease.

This is particularly important for families planning to adopt an infant, as infants may have been given formula or other products contaminated with melamine prior to being placed with their adoptive families.

The following recommendations will help adoptive families protect themselves and their new family members from melamine exposure.

Advice for Travelers to China

If you are traveling to or are currently in China, especially if you are traveling with an infant, you should take the following steps so that you and your family can avoid the risk of melamine exposure.

1) Because of uncertainties related to dairy products in China at this time, CDC recommends that you do not consume any dairy products produced in China, including:

* All brands of infant formula

* Milk or other drinks that contain milk products

* Food, such as yogurt or ice cream that could be milk-based or contain a large amount of milk or milk products.

* Please note that many foods and drinks contain milk products, such as candies, crackers, and desserts. Look for these ingredients on the food or drink label:
- milk
- milk powder
- whey
- lactose
- casein
* It is important to note that dairy products produced in the United States and imported into China for sale are not affected.
2) If you are traveling to China and are planning to bring your infant or child, please carry any needed formula or other milk products with you. Do not use any milk products produced in China.

3) If you are pregnant and have already ingested some of these listed products or you are breastfeeding while ingesting the listed products, discontinue their use. Effects on the unborn child are unknown. Melamine only stays in the body for a few days. The effects on the kidneys of the formula-fed infants in China are thought to result from
continuous use of the products over many days.

4) See a doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms or think that an infant may have any of these symptoms:
- stomach pain
- vomiting
- fever
- irritability or excessive crying in infants or children
- blood, crystals, or particles in urine
- painful urination
- little or no urine
- swelling of hands, feet, or face
While abroad, you can contact the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you think you may need assistance.

Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the United States are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide assistance to U.S. citizens.

To contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country where you are visiting:
- Dial 1-888-407-4747 if calling from the United States or Canada,
- Dial 00 1 202-501-4444 if calling from overseas, or
- Find your local U.S. Embassy at
5) If you have recently returned to the United States from China and think you or your child may have been exposed to melamine, talk to your doctor. If you or your child has any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor right away.

Special advice for U.S. travelers going to China to adopt an infant

If you are planning a trip to China to adopt an infant, please carry any needed formula or other milk products with you. Do not use any milk products produced in China. When you return home, please have your child evaluated by a pediatrician as soon as possible and inform the pediatrician that your child was adopted from China and that there is therefore the possibility that the child may have been exposed to contaminated milk products before being placed in your care.

More Information

For more information about melamine and the current situation, see the following links:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
FDA Issues Health Information Advisory on Infant Formula, September 12, 2008 -

FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination, September 23, 2008 -
World Health Organization (WHO)
Questions and answers on melamine -

Melamine-contaminat ion event, China, September 2008 - en/index.html

Melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula in China, September 18, 2008 -

Melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula in China – update, September 22, 2008 -
Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC)
English language home page -

Chinese language home page –
We thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


Nina Marano, DVM, MPH
Chief, Geographic Medicine and Health Promotion Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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