Milk bank saves infant's life in Rajasthan

Udaipur, December 7: Preeti Gameti, an anemic, aged 27, had given birth to a baby boy recently. However, like anyother mother of her age, she was unable to breastfeed her child. She had lost a lot of blood during the labour and was too weak to breastfeed. Meanwhile, the condition of the baby deteriorated and efforts to keep him alive were dwindling. That is when a doctor from Rajasthan s Udaipur district suggested that the child was in dire need of mother s breast milk or human milk. (Read: Anemia during pregnancy causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention)

Help at sight

To restore the health of the newborn Divya Mothers Milk Bank (DMMB) in Udaipur came forward, one of the very few such functional units in north India. This human milk bank was set up in April 2013. Till date DMMB has saved 644 infants whose biological mothers are unable to breastfeed them for a variety of reasons, including being HIV-affected or malnourished. Apart from this, the bank has also successfully revived girl children abandoned by their parents in Rajasthan's highly patriarchal society. When Gameti s baby was brought to the bank, he was 15 days old and weighed only 900 gm. Though, critical at that time but consumption of breast milk increased his weight in 10 days to 1.5 kg.

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Some facts about milk banks and infant mortality

  • There are very few operational milk banks in India. The DMMB milk bank managed by NGO Maa Bhagwati Vikas Sansthan, also runs a cradle scheme that has managed to save the lives of over 100 female infants.
  • According to the 2011 Census, the desert state's infant mortality rate was - 52 per 1,000 live births as compared to the India figure of 44.
  • According to a report prepared by not-for-profit Save the Children and Joy Lawn, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a staggering 1.013 million babies in India died on the first day of birth in 2012.
  • The aim of the banks is not just to store and distribute mother s milk to newborns and parents who are in need, but helps woman to produce milk who can t do that due to certain complications. The founder of the NGO Maa Bhagwati Vikas Sansthan informed IANS that the bank has helped 2000 mothers produce milk through suction method.
  • Every year 2,76,00,000 births are reported in India. Imagine if half of their mothers donate milk, infant mortality can be drastically reduced.
  • Due to low awareness rates, till November 30, 2014, only 1,405 women have donated 8,389 units of milk, where one unit equals to 30 ml.

Importance of mother s milk

  • Around seventy-five percent of infants in NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) die due to pneumonia and diabetes after birth. Twenty-two percent of such deaths can be prevented by feeding mother's milk.
  • The recovery of babies born prematurely is 40 percent faster if they are provided with mother's milk and this is what we do here. (Read: 8 reasons breastfeeding is good for the mother too!)

How is milk stored in milk banks

  • Before pooling, the donor's milk is tested for various diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and the like.
  • The milk is sterilized in a hot air oven for 30 minutes and pasteurized at 65 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
  • The milk is stored at temperatures below -20 degrees Celsius and does not perish for six months if kept frozen.

In India there are just 10 milk banks functional throughout the country whereas in Brazil there are 200 banks and infant mortality has been reduced by 70 percent. So we think it s a long wait for our innocent infants to get adequate support right after birth, when in need. (Read: Breastfeeding: A step-by-step guide for new mums)

Image source: Getty Images

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