August 17, 2023; Pune: The Human Milk Bank at Surya Mother & Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune (SMCH), has successfully completed six months, saving the lives of over 500 neonates.
Every year, India witnesses a significant number of premature or preterm births. In 2020, approximately 13.4 million babies were born prematurely, with India alone accounting for 3 million (or 22 percent) of these cases. Pakistan, Nigeria, China, and Ethiopia ranked after India in terms of the number of premature births, as reported by the World Health Organization in a study titled “Born Too Soon.”
“This rise in the number of premature births pose a challenge to the neonatologists, which includes providing for the most adequate nutrition for infant’s successful and timely growth and development. While breast milk remains the optimum exclusive source of nutrition for the first six months of life, unavailability of the same makes infants vulnerable to various infections, leading to life-threatening diseases.
To address this challenge, Surya Mother & Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune (SMCH) took the initiative to establish the Surya Human Milk Bank. SMCH houses one of the largest NICUs in the private sector nationwide, providing crucial care to 100-120 infants born with a birth weight of less than 1000 grams annually. The NICU has a daily human milk requirement of approximately 3 litres. An exemplary practice at their NICU is the exclusive use of either the babies’ own mothers’ milk or donor mothers’ milk, completely eliminating the use of formula milk. The NICU has successfully collected an impressive total of 162.77 litres of donated milk as of June 2023.”- Dr. Manisha Khalane, Lactation Consultant at Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune,
The milk bank at SMCH, as stated by Dr Amita Kaul- Senior Consultant Pediatrics and Neonatology, Surya Mother and Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune has played a crucial role in saving the lives of premature babies. Dr. Amita shares the inspiring story of Baby Advait (name changed), born at just 25 weeks with a birth weight of 750 grams. “The baby faced significant challenges due to the mother’s severe health complications, making it difficult for her to provide breast milk.
Thankfully, Surya’s Human Milk Bank stepped in, providing essential donor milk for the baby from day 2 of his life. Thriving on the donor milk, Advait showed remarkable tolerance with no infections or feed intolerance complications. Over the subsequent weeks, the baby achieved a significant milestone – Advait’s weight increased by 2x, which is a crucial indicator of progress for a premature infant. The availability of donor milk from the Human Milk Bank played an integral role in supporting Advait’s growth and development during those critical early weeks when breast milk’s benefits are most essential for premature babies. Further, As Advait’s mother began to recover, she was able to provide her own milk, and gradually, the donor milk was replaced with it.”
Advait’s story is an example of how the Human Milk Bank can be a lifeline for fragile premature infants when their own mothers face challenges in providing breast milk. It showcases the impact of donor milk in promoting healthy development and growth in premature babies like Baby Advait.
Thus, with an average monthly donation of around 30 litres, the presence of a Human Milk Bank at Surya Mother & Child Super Speciality Hospital, Pune has played a vital role in promoting better health outcomes for NICU babies, reducing their length of stay by 2-3 weeks, and contributing to cost savings – all while saving lives of many premature babies.