- Donating breastmilk or breastfeeding another baby is an ancient practice. Throughout history, women have breastfed infants who were not their own. Lord Krishna was breastfed by mother Yashoda though his biological mother was Devaki.
- In 20th century, wet-nursing have saved many baby’s life. Wet nursing is the first form of donor milk banking, and it was a form of the practice of breastfeeding another’s child.
- The first breast milk bank in Asia was started in Mumbai at the Lokmanya Tilak Hospital (Sion Hospital) about 25 years ago.
- Since then, the growth of Breast milk banks has been slow in India with only 14 breast milk banks in total.
- WHO and UNICEF issued a joint statement in 1979 stating “Where it is not possible for the biological mother to breastfeed, the first alternative, if available, should be the use of human breast milk from other sources. Human milk banks should be made available in appropriate situations”. The statement was endorsed by World Health Assembly in 1980 as well.
Milk Banking in India
- Presently there are 14 milk banks in India. Majority of the countries around the world do not even have one.
- It is estimated that India needs more than 1,300 milk banks.
- Milk Banks are expensive to set-up and equally expensive to run, so there number remains limited in India.
- NeoLacta has revolutionized the concept of donor milk by coming up with a solution that is not only scalable but also cost effective and geography independent..
- The Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Chapter of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), has developed the Human Milk Banking Guidelines: Indian Perspective 2015 in consultation with UNICEF, WHO and Indian Medico-Legal and Ethics Association. These Guidelines state that “In our country, the burden of low birth weight babies in various hospitals in about 20% with significant mortality and morbidities. Feeding these babies with breastmilk can significantly reduce the risk of infections. Hence the Government, health experts and the civil society must join hands to propagate the concept of human milk banking for the sake of thousands of low birth weights and preterm babies”.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended human milk ahead of artificial milk (formula) to feed infants who are born prematurely. The advantages of human milk cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics include reduction of occurrence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), sepsis, and mortality, improved tolerance of feeding and earlier attainment of full eternal feeding, and improved long-term growth and neuro development.