Fillip to childcare,hospitals to open banks for mother’s milk

In a milk bank,the milk is pasteurised after collecting it from a lactating mother,tested & stored at -20 degree C

Pune | Published: August 29, 2013 3:03 am

Anuradha Mascarenhas

The best food for a baby is mother’s milk and hospitals are increasingly working towards setting up mother’s milk banks in the city. Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital’s milk bank has been operational for two years while Sassoon general hospital,D Y Patil and Sahyadri hospital are all set to launch their own milk banks.

Breast milk collected from mothers admitted to hospital can be banked and given to newborns whose mothers are either sick or not lactating,said Dr Sandhya Khadse,Head of Department of Paediatrics,Sassoon General Hospital. Sassoon will be the first government hospital in the city to set up its own mother’s milk bank in the next four weeks.

In a milk bank,the milk is pasteurised after collecting it from a lactating mother,tested for microbes and then frozen and stored at -20 degree C. It can be stored for from six months to a year. Newborns suffering from diarrhoea,malnutrition or from burns can benefit from the colustrum,Khadse said.

Breast milk also benefits low-birth weight babies. Giving human milk to babies on ventilator can also hold off ailments like asthma,and allergies and help in developing a proper immune system,Dr Umesh Vaidya,Head of the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at KEM Hospital said.

Vaidya who also heads neonatology services at Sahyadri hospital,Kalyaninagar,said a state-of-the-art milk bank will be set up here. D Y Patil Hospital at Pimpri will also launch their milk bank in the first week of September,Dr Sharad Agharkhedkar,Head of the Department of Paediatrics at D Y Patil medical college said.

“We have received funds from the Rotary Club of Nariman Point and set up a dedicated team to encourage mothers to donate milk for the pre-term babies in the NICU,” Agharkhedkar said.

Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital has been operating a mother’s milk bank for the last two years and donor mothers have helped more than 1,000 neonates with their milk. Dr Arti Rajhans,consulting neonatologist and NICU in charge at Deenanath hospital,said lives of many premature babies have been saved due to the donated milk.

Khadse,in her paper published in the Medical Journal of Western India in February,has pointed out that an estimated 1.3 million to 1.45 million childhood deaths in developing countries are attributed to suboptimal breast feeding practices. There are just 517 human milk banks across the world and India has 10. The first one was set up in 1989 at Sion Hospital under the leadership of Dr Armaidy Fernandez.

“While lactation consultants,gynaecologists and others do create awareness about the need for mothers who have delivered to express their milk that can be stored in the banks,we also plan to start human milk bank donation camps so that more donors can volunteer,” Vaidya said.

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