12 December, Ahmedabad
Having created a record of delivering 1001st baby of surrogate mother, a private fertility centre has now established a human milk bank, adding yet another feather in the cap of Anand town known as the milk capital of the country for its famous Amul brand.
Akanksha Fertility Centre, which gained the distinction of delivering 1001st baby born of surrogate mother, in October, set up a human milk bank earlier this week for providing milk to newborn babies whose surrogate mothers milk has dried up.This is the third human milk bank in Gujarat and 18th in the country.
A human milk bank is a service established for collecting, screening, processing, storing and distributing donated human milk. The bank will supply milk free of cost to the surrogate mothers as the donors too will be offering their milk free, said Dr. Nayana Patel, medical director of Akanksha Fertility Centre.
A surrogate mother is given medication to dry up her milk while it is necessary to feed the newborn mothers milk for the infant to develop immunity against various infections, explained Dr. Patel. The human milk bank, therefore, plays the crucial function of making available this milk collected from other lactating mothers, she said.
The practice of taking the help of a wet nurse has had a long history throughout the world. Before this century, the infant would have been directly breastfed by the woman who was referred to as a “wet nurse”. Wet-nursing itself has had periods throughout history when it has fallen from favour because of incidence of transfer of infection from the donor to the child, Dr. Patel said.
Banked human milk is regarded as the next best after the biological mother’s breast milk. It is used for the treatment of many conditions: prematurity, malabsorption, short-gut syndrome, intractable diarrhea, nephrotic syndrome, some congenital anomalies, formula intolerance, failure to thrive, immune deficiencies.In 1980, World Health Organization and UNICEF advocated setting up of human milk bank.
In a joint statement they noted: “Where it is not possible for the biological mother to breast feed, the first alternative, if available, should be the use of human milk from other sources. Human milk banks should be made available in appropriate situations.”
The human milk bank at Anand first carries out complete medical check-up of the donor mother before collecting her milk with the help of a milching machine. The milk is then pasteurized and stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius temperature. It is tested again thoroughly before being fed to the infant, said bank coordinator Deepak Dave. He said though the shelf-life of frozen human milk is one year there is so much of demand that there is always shortage. The bank has a storage capacity of 500 litres.
According to Dave the first human milk was set up in the country in 1987. There are today 18 human milk banks in the country including one each in Surat, Vadodara and now in Anand.