Vellore: A breast milk bank has recently been started by the Christian Medical College’s Department of Neonatology. The milk to be collected from willing mothers will be given to premature children born to mothers who are in the intensive care and unable to feed their new born or are unable to produce enough milk for their child. There are approximately 30 milk banks in India today with concentration in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Head, Neonatology, CMC Vellore Professor S Sridhar told the Hindu on Friday that the hospital had 15,000 mothers come int to the hospital for deliveries. Of the new births 20% were premature, while another 10% of the mothers were referrals to CMC Vellore for babies with complications
“Premature babies can be fed only breast milk. In many cases, their mothers are sick and in the Intensive Care Unit. They cannot feed the babies for the first few days, while some mothers cannot produce adequate breast milk,” he said.
It was these difficulties faced by both mothers and their new born that led to CMC Vellore establishing a milk bank.The first bank of this kind was established in the late 1980s.
“But the concept did not take off in the country until after 2005,” said Sridhar.
The Institute of Child Health, Egmore in Chennai,was one among the firsts to establish a milk bank , presently the number in Tamil Nadu has increased to seven in the government sector of the state.
With an operational breast milk bank at CMC Vellore the doctors and nurses will now approach mothers for donation of breast milk.
“On an average, there are at least 200 mothers in the hospital at a given time. We will look for volunteers to donate milk. Once they give the consent, we will screen the mother to ensure she has no infections before she donates the milk. The milk will be pasteurized. It will be stored at -20 degree centigrade in the bank,” Dr Sridhar said. This life of this stored milk will be between six and 12 months. ‘It will be sent to the laboratory every day for culture to ensure that it is bacteria-free,’ he revealed.