In a unique initiative,Sassoon General Hospital launched a human milk bank on Tuesday. For the first time at a government hospital in the city,breast milk collected from in-house mothers will be banked and given to newborns whose mothers are either sick or not lactating.
MP Supriya Sule,who inaugurated the milk bank at the department of paediatrics,said it is a laudable effort by a government hospital and urged mothers of newborns to donate their milk. It is critical to have a milk bank as there are so many malnourished children who require mothers milk, Sule said.
Dr Sandhya Khadse,head of paediatrics department,said milk is pasteurised after collecting it from lactating mothers,tested for microbes,frozen and stored at -20 degrees Celsius. It can be stored for six months to a year. Newborns suffering from diarrhoea,malnutrition or burns can benefit from the colostrum,Khadse said.
Breast milk also benefits babies with low birth weight. Giving human milk to babies on ventilator can also hold off ailments like asthma and allergies,said Dr Ajay Chandanwale,dean of Sassoon hospital and B J Medical College.
Khadse in her paper published in the Medical Journal of Western India in February pointed out that an estimated 1.3 million to 1.45 million childhood deaths in developing countries are attributed to suboptimal breastfeeding practices. There are just 517 human milk banks across the world and India has 14,with the first one being set up at Mumbais Sion Hospital in 1989 under the leadership of Dr Armaidy Fernandez. Sassoon is the second government hospital to have its own human milk bank.
There are over 8,000 deliveries at Sassoon every year and on any day there are at least 35-40 deliveries at the hospital. Our staff will counsel mothers to donate their milk. Electronic pumps will be used to help them express milk,which will be collected and pasteurised, she said.
There is a 25-bed neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital,while the paediatric intensive care unit has 10 beds. Bank of Baroda has donated Rs 15 lakh for the milk bank and officials were felicitated at the inauguration function.