Mothers don’t donate to milk banks fearing shortage for babies: Study

Published on May 05, 2019 12:41 AM IST

Findings of the study, which used data from two civic hospitals, were recently published in the international journal Breastfeeding Medicine.

Mothers don’t donate to milk banks fearing shortage for babies: Study (Representative Image)(AFP)
Mothers don’t donate to milk banks fearing shortage for babies: Study (Representative Image)(AFP)
Mumbai | ByAayushi Pratap

New mothers refrain from donating milk as they fear it may lead to a shortage for their own babies, reveals a study conducted by an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) along with city doctors.

Findings of the study, which used data from two civic hospitals, were recently published in the international journal Breastfeeding Medicine. Dr Jayashree Mondkar, head of neonatal department at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (LTMG) in Sion and lead author of the study, said the aim of the study was to identify challenges faced by the city’s milk banks.

According to researchers, the belief that donating milk could reduce the amount available for the donor’s baby has “no scientific basis.”

“Women can donate the milk that is produced after feeding their babies,” Mondkar said.

The milk bank at LTMG, the first in the country and one of the centres for the study, collects 800 to 1,200 litres annually. Here, at least 3,000 babies need pasteurised donor milk every year. “With this, we are barely able to make ends meet on most days. Sometimes we run short and have to refuse requests for milk from other hospitals and mothers at home,” she said.

Dr Hari Balasubramanian, who heads the milk bank recently started at Surya Hospital in Santacruz, said that 20% of new mothers have lactation failure. This number increases to 50% in neonatal intensive care units (ICU). “Counsellors can raise awareness, talk to women and encourage them to donate,” said Balasubramanian.

Feeding breast milk reduces infants’ risk of infections, which increases chances of mortality. In India, neonatal infections cause 33% of new-born deaths, second only to deaths owing to pre-term births (35%).

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