Lack of donors dries up breast milk banks in Pune

Aug 08, 2013, 00:51 IST | Anup Satphale

As breast-feeding week comes to an end today, MiD DAY found that a breast milk bank started by a private hospital in Pune does not have enough donors even after two years

But the initiative has proved to have a significant effect on children.

It’s natural: Human breast milk at the bank is taken from a donor mother who has just delivered and is then pasteurised and stored at minus 20 degree Celsius. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

In a recent case, out of a pair of newborn twins, one baby was supplied breast milk through the bank and the other one was fed formula as there wasn’t adequate milk. The baby fed on breast milk showed satisfactory weight gain and was discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care unit within a few days unlike the other one. According to paediatricians, people are aware of the concept but accessibility for donation to banks is less.

Paediatrician Dr Rajan Joshi of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital said, “Twins were born at our hospital prematurely. One weighed 1,100 grams and the other was about 1,400 grams. Considering the severity of the case we decided to provide them human milk from our bank but there wasn’t enough available. So the child with lesser weight was fed breast milk. The other child was given milk formula. The baby provided with breast milk has shown improvement and was brought out of the Neonatal ICU to a normal ward much before the other one.”

Highlighting the need for donors of milk for the bank, Joshi said, “We approach mothers, who have delivered babies at our hospital to donate excess milk. As they deliver here we have their reports of HIV and hepatitis. These women give milk when they are in the hospital but they don’t return. Even if they are willing to donate, accessibility is a major hurdle.”

Joshi suggested that a mobile collection centre would change the scenario. “There are many women who have to throw excess milk, but if they collected it can be used for needy babies.”

Sassoon starts it too
State-run tertiary medical centre, Sassoon Hospital, will be the second such institute to start a milk bank in the city this month. Dr Sandya Khadse, head of the paediatric department, said, “Sassoon will have the second milk bank out of all 14 state-run hospitals. The work is in its final stages and the bank will be inaugurated this month.” Thousands of babies born at the hospital will benefit and abandoned babies admitted in SOFOSH will be fed through this bank.

Human milk bank
Milk bank is a concept where excess milk from a mother is collected and pasteurised. It is then stored at minus 20°C. This milk can be preserved for one year and administered to children. A woman, who has just delivered, can donate milk till her child reach six months.

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