Mothers' milk bank to bridge nutrition deficiencies | Healthcare in India |

Human milk banks are growing in Pune. After Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital which has had the facility since the last two years, Pimpri Chinchwad's first human milk bank is going to be launched at D Y Patil Medical College and Hospital on Saturday.

A milk bank caters to infants who do not get the milk from the mothers due premature birth or when the mother dies during childbirth.

As the incidence of low-birth weight babies and preterm babies is very high in India, it is imperative for the survival of these babies that constant and adequate supply of milk is guaranteed to them. A milk bank can perform a virtual function in such scenario. It acts as the most cost effective strategy for overall improvement in neonatal care, say experts.

"The human milk bank gives parents the choice of donated breast milk when the mother's own milk is not available. The facility is created to provide families with the option of donor mothers' milk when needed and to see that babies exclusively receive breast milk from birth to six months of age," said senior paediatrician Sharad Agarkhedkar, head of the paediatrics department at D Y Patil Medical College and Hospital, Pimpri.

Milk banking includes collecting, screening, processing, pasteurising, storing and prescribing donated human milk by lactating mothers to the babies who are not able to breastfeed immediately after birth. Milk is distributed according to the requirement.

Extremely preterm and low birth weight babies, all babies separated from their mothers due to complications or illness in mothers, mothers who have adopted the newborn and abandoned neonate or neonate from orphanage admitted in neonatal care unit or paediatric ward can benefit from this facility, Agarkhedkar added.

Mothers with surplus milk without any infection like HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and tuberculosis can donate.

Breastmilk is expressed with the help of electronic breast pumps in clean containers. "The procedure is painless and safe. There is no spilling and no chances of infection. The breast milk if stored in a tightly sealed container at room temperature is safe for 4-6 hours and can be stored in a refrigerator for a week and in deep freezer at -20 degree centigrade for 6 months," Agarkhedkar said.