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Traditional medicine ‘quacks' poison children

Update: April, 04/2012 - 10:46

HA NOI — Some 130 children have been hospitalised in the last three months due to suffering from serious lead contamination caused by disqualified traditional medicine.

Deputy Director of Bach Mai Hospital's Poison Control Centre Nguyen Kim Son said the children, mainly from northern Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Phu Tho and Lang Son provinces, have shown symptoms of lead contamination, the cause of which was identified as a kind of powder popularly known as cam used to treat thrush as well as stimulate and improve health.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, a traditional medicine doctor, said the powder, made from many kinds of leaves and some other additives, has been very popular amongst parents treating their children for thrush, rickets and anorexia.

However, he refused to reveal what exact ingredients were used in the medicine.

Doctor Son said many parents bought the medicine from street vendors, which could contain poisonous heavy metals like lead or arsenic.

Hoang Thi Ca, from Bac Giang Province, said her 13-month old child had used the powder since his third month. Last week, he suddenly started vomiting and convulsing due to lead contamination.

She said that similar to herself, most parents in her neighbourhood bought the powder, some also having had to hospitalise their kids.

Doctor Son said lead poisoning caused problems with the nervous system, loss of consciousness, paralysis and loss of blood.

So far, it takes several years to treat diseases caused by lead poisoning because of the lack of specialist medicine. Even when lead is filtered out of children's bodies, most continue to suffer for the rest of their lives, he added.

The hospital has reported the situation to the Ministry of Health to warn people about the consequences of the disqualified medicine powder. — VNS

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