Human milk bank for mothers unable to breastfeed

BENGALURU: For new mothers who are unable to breastfeed their children due to various reasons, here is good news. The city’s first human milk bank ‘Amaara’ was opened here on Tuesday.

It is being run by Fortis La Femme (hospital for women and children), Richmond Road, in association with the Breast Milk Foundation (BMF), a non-profit organisation.

If a mother’s own milk is unavailable or insufficient, the next best option is to use pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM), which will be stored and supplied by this bank.

Though the country is battling the issue of low birth weight infants, human milk banks are a rarity. So far only Delhi has such a bank in the country.

As for the Delhi bank, Dr Raghuram Malliah, Director Neonatology of La Femme Delhi and Co-Founder Breast Milk Foundation said, "In 18 months we have had about 100 donor mother and 750 litres of milk processed and including government hospitals, we have touched some 500 babies."

The team felt the response in Bengaluru will be much higher due to better awareness. Anika Parashar COO Fortis La Femme, said, "The IT city has more potential and once we start collecting proper data, the numbers might exceed the Delhi figures. We have already started getting an overwhelming response from recipients and donors and also lactation experts and gynaecologists have already started referring the bank to the new mothers."

The bank would adhere to strict guidelines with regard to donors and recipients. They would not be selling milk to anyone who calls.

"We would only process calls coming to us from hospitals and not mothers. Also, the donors after registering with the bank have to undergo various tests before we collect the milk. The milk, which is expressed at the donor's doorstep would be then analysed and the nutrient content would be labelled on each bottle," Dr Raghuram said.

Currently, each bottle is priced at Rs 200. "There are no tie-ups with the government hospitals, but if we are reached out to by them we would be sending milk there as well just like in Delhi, where we donate milk to some 25 government hospitals," he added.

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