Awareness Regarding Milk Bank in India
Milk the only source of food for infants and the most important source of nutrition. India has the highest number of preterm births—over 35 lakh every year and not just preterm but 13% of babies born in India are premature and 28% are born with low birth weight this in turn result in early infant death. These infants often suffer from diarrhea or other infectious infections and are usually observed in babies who are fed from cow milk or formula milk.
It is important to feed an infant with breast milk and early start of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth is marked as the most effective method to ensure that the baby is receiving essential nutrition. It will not only help the healthy infants, but if an infant is born premature and sick have higher chances of recovering from breast feeding.
Why first hour of breast milk is considered important? It is called as Colostrum “First milk and liquid gold”. It supercharges the baby’s immune system and protect against flu. It contains everything a baby need, is low in fat and high in carbohydrates, protein, easy to digest and specially contain antibodies to build a strong immunity. Beside colostrums, the breast milk contains protein, fats and vitamin A, D, E and K. Studies have shown that breastfed infants have higher immunity, stronger bones, and low chances of getting diseases later in life.
Sometime mothers are not able to breast feed, so the next option comes is formula milk or cow milk, but instead of that the best option is human breast milk from the milk bank. Lactating mother donates breast milk, the milk is first collected, then undergoes a pasteurization process and after quality is checked, it is then stored under low temperature. The mothers also undergo assessment and through screening before collecting the milk. The government is also working towards setting up of a human milk bank network across the country and ensure its regulation, polices, quality and safety of milk becomes critical. This is important as many a times the donated milk could be harmful for the recipient if contaminated with bacteria or viruses. To overcome these concerns all banks must adhere to strict screening measures to ensure that the donor is healthy and not under any specific drugs.
The world’s first human milk bank was set up in Vienna, Austria in 1911. The first Asian county to set up a milk bank was India in 1989 at the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital, Mumbai and India is a leading country in number of preterm births. These banks are therefore mostly useful for the hospital with a Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which can help maximum number of premature and sick infants.
Being the first Asian country, the people in India are still under social stigma and the taboo related to breast milk bank. They don’t accept the concept of giving someone else’s milk to the new born child and because of this there still many new born nannies those who don’t get the benefit of breast milk. Also the society pressure can also limit the donor for milk donation.
The new mothers should be given support for lactation, breast feeding and donation the milk, this will automatically lead to more donations. Awareness initiatives should also be given from the government and medical fraternity to the family members of infants who require breast milk to ensure maximum benefits and health of their infants. These small changes will help the nation to build a strong nation and reduce the chances of premature and low birth infant’s death.
Human milk bank in India:
- Lokamanya Tilak Hospital (Sion Hospital), Sion, Mumbai
- Amara Milk Bank (In collaboration with Fortis la Femme), Greater Kailash, New Delhi
- KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai
- Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Byculla, Mumbai
- Cama Hospital, Fort, Mumbai
- Divya Mother Milk Bank, Udaipur, Rajasthan
- Dheenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Centre, Pune
- SSKM Hospital, Kolkata
- Institute of Child Health, Egmore, Chennai
- Vijaya Hospital, Chennai
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