State's first breast milk bank launched

State's first breast milk bank launched; to aid pre-term babies

The state’s first breast milk bank, Amaara, was launched by Fortis La Femme Hospital in association with Breast Milk Foundation, an NGO that works for the improvement of health outcomes for preterm babies.

The milk bank will provide pasteurised breast milk to preterm babies. According to the co-founder of the milk bank, Dr Raghuram Mallaiah, who is also the director of neonatology at Fortis La Femme Hospital, the bank will be available for all hospitals which place a requirement for breast milk for preterm babies born at their centres. He claimed that the milk bank is the first in South India.

“It is 10 times more important to breastfeed preterm babies as it increases their chances of survival, reduces infections and increases intelligence,” he added.

The milk bank will cater to both government and private hospitals. A 130 ml bottle costs Rs 200 but will be provided free of cost to those below the poverty line.

Dr Mallaiah said the milk bank holds a unique feature of analysing the milk procured. Each bottle will have a label indicating the nutrient contents (protein, calories etc) in the milk so that it can be used according to the requirement.

Milk will be collected from women who have consented to provide excess breast milk to the bank.

The milk will be frozen and later pasteurised. This will then be screened for infections and then stored for later use. Breast milk can be stored for up to six months, while according to doctors, due to demand, it gets delivered in days.

“There is a high demand for breast milk as many mothers may not lactate after the first few weeks of their delivery. Babies during this time are given formula feeds which lack certain qualities of breastmilk,” said Dr Sreenath Manikanti, head of the department and consultant neonatologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital.

At the government-run Vani Vilas hospital for women and children that handles at least 1,500 deliveries a month, at least 45% of them are preterm babies.

“Children should be compulsorily breastfed within the first hour of their birth and they should be fed breast milk alone for the first six months, no matter what,” said Dr Asha Benakappa, director of Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health.

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