Kolkata, Aug 7 IANS | 2 years ago

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated eastern India's first breast milk bank at the premier state-run Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital (SSKM) Wednesday.

This is the country's second breast milk bank, the first being established in Mumbai Nov 27, 1989.

The state-of-the-art breast milk bank comes as a boon for non-lactating mothers. The stored milk can be used to feed babies whose mothers fall ill during the six-month lactating period after pregnancy.

"It is a modernised facility. We had undertaken testing for two months...blood tests were performed to scrutinise the quality of milk and we ensured the milk was disease-free," said Banerjee after inaugurating the facility.

"Donor mothers" are women whose premature infants are admitted to the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), pregnant women who deliver their babies at SSKM and even expectant mothers who do not deliver their babies at the hospital but are admitted to the out patient department.

"We counsel them and procure their milk," said Suchandra Mukherjee, head of the neonatology department at SSKM.

The concept of such milk banks is quite popular in the UK, United States of America and Sweden. Such facilities also come to the rescue of abandoned babies and those born premature.

Mukherjee assured latest sterilising equipment are being used.

"The pasteurising machine (to kill germs) is the latest technology...even the bank in Maharashtra does not use this...," Mukherjee told IANS.

The milk bank will also be an option for those mothers who have adopted children, possess insufficient milk glands and have an history of past breast surgery or cancer.

The initiative is the brainchild of the department's former head Arun Singh.

(Posted on 07-08-2013)