Thursday, September 25, 2008

Primetime Morning Interview on Chickenpox

Here's my interview on Channel News Asia's Primetime Morning on 23 September 2008.

More information on Chickenpox!


Channel 5 news on Chickenpox
My article about Chickenpox

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Melamine poisoning: What Parents should know

I am sure a lot of parents are anxious about the issue of Melamine poisoning and want to know how to find out if their children are suffering from Melamine poisoning. So this is just a short post to let you all know a little more about what is going on and what to do.

What is Melamine and how did it get into our food products?

Melamine is a chemical that they use to make plastics. I remember that we used to have unbreakable plates and bowls that were made with Melamine and they are still being used in a lot of places today. Melamine as a plastic is very safe, but it becomes a problem when it is eaten.

Because Melamine is high in nitrogen, unscrupulous people have added it to milk which have been diluted with water in order to fool the detection devices into thinking that it is normal milk. This is because the devices do not actually detect protein itself, but the nitrogen content in the protein. So when the milk farmers sell their milk to the middlemen, these middlemen dilute the milk with water and add Melamine so that they can sell more volume of milk to the big producers like Sanlu. These producers then sell their milk products to make things like infant formula, chocolates, ice cream etc.

In Singapore, the AVA has positively detected Melamine in 3 products so far. These are:

White Rabbit Creamy Candies

Dutch Lady Strawberry Flavoured Milk

Yili Fruit Bar

Photos from AVA

I think we might be seeing more product warnings as the AVA conducts their check. As a precaution, they have also started to recall food products which use China sourced milk as one of their ingredients. These can be anything from chocolates, candies, yoghurt etc. It would be wise to avoid these products until the dust settles.

How to know if my child is affected by Melamine Poisoning?

Melamine affects mainly the kidneys because it is mainly excreted by the kidneys. So when high levels of Melamine are eaten, they start to precipitate in the kidneys causing kidney stones. The usual symptoms of kidney stones are pain in the back and sometimes blood in the urine.

Sometimes, melamine can also cause Acute Renal Failure (ARF) which is probably the cause of death in those infants in China. ARF is usually diagnosed with a blood test which is done because the patient is very sick and is admitted to hospital. There are really no concrete signs but you might notice that the child is very sick and vomiting constantly and the urine output might be very much reduced. At any rate, most parents can tell when there is something very wrong with their child and should just bring them to see the doctor.

Do note that you do have to take a moderate amount of Melamine it starts to become a problem. So in China, it was the infants who have been fed daily with tainted infant formula over several months who are affected. If you just drank a bottle of Dutch Lady Strawberry milk or had one Yili fruit bar, it should not cause any problems so there is no point in worrying about it too much. In doubt, please check with your doctor.


It would be wise to avoid any product that contain milk that has been sourced from China at the moment. However, you should not be too concerned if you or your child has taken only a small amount of any of the 3 products listed. If on the other hand, your child has been taking, say, the Dutch Lady Strawberry milk in large amounts over several months, then it may be prudent to bring him to the doctor who might do an Xray and blood test for the child.


News about Melamine scandal click here
Read about the banned products in the AVA website

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Chickenpox cases are on the rise.

Here's the Channel News Asia report on the rising number of Chickenpox cases in Singapore which was shot right here at Karri Family Clinic last Sunday evening.

Here are the main points and some additional points not covered by the news:
  1. The number of cases of Chickenpox cases in Singapore has risen by 25% over the last year
  2. Many parents are still resistant to vaccinating their children because many believe that it is a "rite of passage" for the child.  However, if you think about it, when you were a kid, everybody had Chickenpox, nowadays, it is no longer universal.  This is because of the introuduction of the Chickenpox vaccine. 
  3. Contrary to popular belief, Chickenpox can sometimes cause complications like brain infections, lung infections and even death. Again contrary to popular belief, Chickenpox does not have to be a "normal" part of life.
  4. The risk of complications in Chickenpox is highest in infants less than one year old and in adults older than 20 years. Adults tend to get a more severe form of the disease.
  5. Some children do still get Chickenpox after the vaccination, but it is important to note that at least 70% to 90% of them don't ever get the disease.  And if they do get the illness, it is very mild and the risk of complications is very much reduced.
  6. Women who are planning to get pregnant should consider getting themselves vaccinated if they have not had chickenpox before.  This is because if they do get chickenpox during the first half of pregnancy, the child has an increased risk of severe deformity.  If they get Chickenpox around the time of delivery, the infant may also develop infantile Chickenpox which can cause death in 31% of infants
  7. Scarring is quite commonly seen after Chickenpox.  Although it is not life threatening, the scars can be prominent and can cause long term emotional distress as seen with the lady in the video.
  8. The side effect of the vaccination is minimal.  Children may get a bit of fever and pain at the injection site. There are some cases where they actually develop a very mild form of Chickenpox following vaccination but this is uncommon.
I hope that these facts will help to clarify your understanding of Chickenpox.  It is important to rely on facts to make decisions that affect your family rather than basing it on hearsay.  If you have other concerns about the Chickenpox, please write in!

I have covered some other points in my previous post on Chickenpox.  Please Click here to read it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Karri Family Clinic to be featured on Channel News Asia tonight

We have just done the filming on Sunday for a story on Chickenpox in our clinic. You will be able to catch the clip of myself and one of our patients being interviewed concerning Chickenpox on Monday night's Primetime News on Channel News Asia at 9.00pm and 10.00pm!

Update: 9 Sep 2008

My apologies it was aired on Channel 5 news at 9.30pm and CNA Singapore Tonight at 10pm.

Kids playing in the Clinic

Being interviewd by Margaret Perry

Patient relating her personal experience with Chickenpox

Kids receiving Chickenpox vaccination