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Unlicenced herbal medicine gives infants lead poisoning

Update: February, 04/2016 - 09:59
Doctors at Ha Noi's Central Paediatrics Hospital treated multiple cases of lead poisoning in infants over the past week caused by unlicenced herbal medication.— Illustrative Image vietnamnet.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — Doctors at Ha Noi's Central Paediatrics Hospital treated multiple cases of lead poisoning in infants over the past week caused by unlicenced herbal medication.

Parents of the two children, who were 1 and 6 months old, bought powdered medicinal herbs from unlicenced manufacturers with the hope their babies would grow quickly and gain weight.

The common powdered medicine, usually called thuoc cam, uses components from many medicinal plants and herbal combinations. Vietnamese grandmothers and mothers often say it will help infants eat well and gain weight. In the countryside it is advertised as a "miracle medicine" that could cure ulcers, furry tongues, inflammation and diarrhea in infants.

Doctor Ta Anh Tuan, head of the Central Paediatrics Hospital's Emergency Faculty, said the centre's doctors were treating two serious lead poisoning cases. Dinh Phuong My, a 6-month-old girl, was hospitalised on January 27 after coming from Bac Giang Province's Hiep Hoa District, 80km from Ha Noi.

According to the family, My's grandmother used homemade herbal medicine to clean the baby's furry tongue. Two days later, the baby suddenly turned pale. Her left eye and hands began to twitch. She was rushed to a local private hospital, then Bac Giang Paediatrics and Obstetrics Hospital. There, doctors performed an endotracheal intubation and then quickly moved her to Ha Noi for treatment.

Doctor Ta Anh Tuan said a blood test showed the baby had lead poisoning.

Another mother fed her 1-month-old son Tran Duy Hung dissolved herbal medicine in water three times a day. The baby's weight increased 1.3kg in the first month. On January 19, the baby refused to suckle, and then had a convulsive fit. Doctors found he had caught pneumonia and meningitis due to the lead poisoning.

Doctor Ta Anh Tuan said these two children weren't the first to be poisoned by this type of herbal medicine.

When the lead caused severe neurological manifestations in children, it could result in mental retardation, seizures, blindness and permanent paralysis, Tuan warned.

To prevent lead poisoning, parents should not buy and use unlicenced herbal medicine.

"Ensuring the safety of children's lives starts from the consciousness of the family," Tuan said. — VNS

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