Kamala Nehru Hospital has become the first hospital run by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to start a human milk bank. The hospital has tied up with Sassoon General Hospital in Pune and will soon start supplying milk to newborn babies who cannot be nursed by their mothers.
According to the World Health Organisation, receiving milk from a human milk bank should be the first alternative for a baby whose mother is unable to breastfeed. Still there are many hospitals in India which use infant formula as human milk is not sufficiently available.
In a bid to promote the feeding of human milk to neonatal babies, the hospital has decided to take this step. Dr Rahul Gagare, Medical Superintendent of Kamala Nehru Hospital, said, “There are many regulations to be followed before we set up a milk bank. Also, we cannot supply milk to any hospital. We can enter into contract only with those hospitals that have special facility for sterilisation of the supplied milk. We have entered into an agreement with Sassoon Hospital and would soon start supplying milk to them as per the requirement.”
Human milk from women who have delivered prematurely has more protein and higher levels of many bioactive molecules compared to the infant formula which is not as nutritious as human milk.
Use of breast milk helps cut down the chances of severe infections. It also helps cut down the colonisation of bacteria in newborns. Collecting, screening and distributing human milk donated by women, this is how a human milk bank works.
Donor milk is a valuable resource for premature infants whose mothers are unable to provide an adequate supply of milk. But there are challenges to it. It presents significant challenges including the need for pasteurisation, nutritional and biochemical deficiencies and a limited supply.