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Human milk banks give premature babies gift of life - banks that save lives in India

It is well known that a mother's milk is the best food for a new born baby. But sometimes, a variety of reasons prevent a mother from dispensing this liquid gold to their child. And this is where human milk banks swoop in like a superhero to save lives.  Currently, there are 47 milk banks all over the country, with Rajasthan (13), Maharashtra (12) and Tamil Nadu (10) leading the pack, reports The Indian Express.  The first milk bank in Asia was established right in Mumbai at Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital

Staff correspondent, NewsCrunch

It is well known that a mother's milk is the best food for a new born baby. But sometimes, a variety of reasons prevent a mother from dispensing this liquid gold to their child. And this is where human milk banks swoop in like a superhero to save lives.

Currently, there are 47 milk banks all over the country, with Rajasthan (13), Maharashtra (12) and Tamil Nadu (10) leading the pack, reports The Indian Express.

The first milk bank in Asia was established right in Mumbai at Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital as far back as in 1989.

Its success prompted other hospitals to follow suit - in the last six years, there has been quite a proliferation of such centres.

The milk donated to these banks are mostly used in the neonatal intensive care unit and sometimes in the paediatric care units. Babies born with prematurity, formula intolerance, growth problems, immune deficiencies and other congenital defects depend on this milk for survival.

Milk banks have had overwhelming effects on infant survival - DY Patil Hospital in Pimpri has recorded an 80% decrease in infant mortality after the milk bank there started functioning. After all, banked human milk is considered as good as a close second to the biological mother's milk, far ahead of formulas or other milks.

Donation of milk has also caught on rapidly in the last few years. From 222 mothers and 31.8 litres in 2013, one hospital has recorded donations of 434 litres from 1557 mothers in 2016.

At Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, a recently introduced home collection facility has generated more donations than ever before. All donating mothers have to do is store the pumped milk in a freezer, and units from the hospital can go and collect it. 

The effects of this initiative has been tremendous. With increased supply of human milk, baby deaths from necrotizing enterocolitis has dropped to less than 1%.

Video: Breast milk banks of India

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