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Kaopectate is the trademark for a common antidiarrheal medicine easily obtained over the counter at any pharmacy. It comes in liquid or chewable tablets for both adults and children, though the packaging warns that Kaopectate should not be given to children under the age of three. The active ingredient in kaopectate is a clay-like substance variously identified as attapulgite or kaolin, and it is believed to absorb the bacteria or germs that cause diarrhea or diarrhoea and then remove them from the body. www.allpetsclinic.com reports that you can use Kaopectate to relieve diarrhea in cats and dogs too.

Recently, Kaopectate has been in a negative media spotlight because of a suit filed in March 2001 by the Center For Environmental Health (CEH) against the makers of Kaopectate, Pharmacia Corporation. The suit cites very high levels of lead in Children's Kaopectate, 400 times higher than the levels at which the law in California, at least, specify that consumers must be given warning. The suit does not say if other Kaopectate products contain lead, but I noticed that Australia no longer sells Kaopectate at all, giving me a bad feeling about the whole brand. Lead consumption is very dangerous to pregnant women and children; it's a carcinogen and reproductive toxin which has devastating toxic effects on children, including brain damage and behavioural problems. The CEH filed notice that they were to proceed with similar suits against Kaopectate's competitors soon afterwards. Read CEH's press release on the suit at http://www.cehca.org/pr030101_kao.htm

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