World breastfeeding Week: Kerala needs more breast milk banks
The world celebrates breastfeeding week from August 1 to August 7 with an aim to encourage breastfeeding and improve health of babies. Breast milk banks are playing significant role in this context.
No powdered milk formula can match with nutritional value and immunity offered by human breast milk. Realising this fact, breast milk banks are gaining momentum across the globe. In breast milk banks, surplus milk from nursing mothers are collected, screened, processed and stored in a scientific manner for making it available to needy babies. Even WHO recommends this method of procurement.
The first human milk bank was opened in Vienna of Austria in 1909. Asia’s first human milk bank was started in Mumbai’s Sion Hospital in 1989. Presently, there are two human milk banks in Kerala. One is at Government General Hospital in Ernakulam, while the other is at Jubilee Mission Hospital in Thrissur. Both the banks were constructed with the financial support of rotatory club. They have highly advanced facilities and babies in intensive care unit are specially catered.
Need of human milk banks
It is difficult for premature, sick and underweight babies to suck milk properly. Similarly, the disease affected mothers and mothers with low milk supply are left with no options. That is where presence of human milk bank becomes relevant. Like it is around the globe, the government should take initiative to open breast milk banks.
Avoid the misconception
According to Dr Niji Justin of Prof.N.D.George Memorial Centre at Thrissur, more mothers should be ready to donate as well as avail breast milk from breast milk banks.
“Some people are concerned whether it is healthy for the baby to have breast milk from someone other than biological mother. However, in breast milk banks, the milk is only collected by undergoing through screening process. Even that is done by directly collecting from hospitals in which the mother undergoes delivery. It is ensured that there will be no chance of communicable diseases. The breast milk bank will also ensure that the collected milk is germ free and will be pasteurized. It will be stored minus 20 degrees Celsius. It can be procured for a period of six months,” she said.