Pune: Milk bank at Sassoon Hospital a boon for infants

Donor milk is a valuable resource for premature infants whose mothers are unable to provide an adequate supply of milk. Receiving milk from a human milk bank should be the first alternative for a baby whose mother is unable to breastfeed. The use of breast milk helps cut down the risk of developing severe infections

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  • In the last four years since its inception, the milk bank at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune has benefited 10,000 infants and around 17,000 mothers have donated their milk here.
  • The four years of functioning of this milk bank has been a boon to these 10,000 infants whose mothers did not have milk and who could have not grown up in a healthy way had this milk not been available.
  • Around 200 mothers of newborn and premature babies are getting a precious gift by these donor women who have their donated milk for kids of these mothers who cannot produce milk of their own.

According to the World Health Organization, receiving milk from a human milk bank should be the first alternative for a baby whose mother is unable to breastfeed. Yet there are many hospitals in India which use infant formula as human milk is not sufficiently available.

The human milk bank at Sassoon Hospital was started in November 2013. Dr Ajay Chandanwale, Dean of Sassoon General Hospital said, “Human milk helps in protecting the baby from medical condition like necrotising enterocolitis. It also helps build immunity in the child. Till date, around 4,000 kids have been able to live a healthy life due to this milk bank.”

He added, “Still there is a need to create awareness around this issue, so that more and more mothers can come forward to donate their milk. We have been consistently counselling mothers at our hospital so that we get more donors.”

Kamala Nehru Hospital had recently become the first hospital run by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to start a human milk van. It has started functioning since August 2016. Sassoon Hospital has tied up with Kamala Nehru Hospital and Sonawane Hospital for the supply of milk by these donor mothers.

Benefits of breast milk

  • Human milk from women who have delivered prematurely has more protein and higher levels of bioactive molecules compared to the infant formula which is not as nutritious as human milk.
  • The use of breast milk helps cut down chances of developing severe infections. It also helps cut down the colonisation of bacteria in newborns.

How does a milk bank work?

Collecting, screening and distributing human milk donated by women, this is how a human milk bank functions.

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.