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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mothers urged to donate human milk to the milk bank

By Jocelyn P. Alvarez

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Nursing mothers are encouraged to donate breast milk to the milk bank so that more infants can benefit from it especially the pre-term babies and the critically ill infants, as donating human milk can save lives.

The milk collected from the mothers goes through a process called pasteurization. Pasteurized milk can be stored in the freezer for 6 to 12 months and is given to sick babies in the Zamboanga City Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) who need nutrient-rich and naturally healing breast milk.

The Milk Bank

The Milk Bank was established in 2013 at the Zamboanga City Medical Center through a grant from the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 2011 facilitated by then house deputy speaker and first district representative and now City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar. It is the first human milk bank facility outside Metro Manila.

Milk letting in 35 barangays

The National Nutrition Council (NCC) during its recent meeting reported that milk letting activities were conducted in the 35 baragays of the city, and as a result, a total of 63,940 ml of breast milk was collected from donor-mothers.

Milk Bank vision

The milk bank, which aims to reduce childhood mortality, was established to provide optional nutrition to newborns.

Human breast milk provides infants compelling nutritional immunoprotective, neurodevelopmental, psychological, social and environmental benefits.

Human milk is also rich in nutrients and non-nutritional bioactive components that cannot be replicated by artificial formula. So, for infants who do not have access to their own mother’s milk, donor milk can be lifesaving.

Who can donate

Eligible to donate breast milk are mothers who are in good general health and able to breastfeed, currently nursing a baby less than one year old, willing to have a blood test to rule out certain diseases, those who are not using medication or herbal supplements, and those who have no history of kidney disease and/or tissue transplant.

Disqualified to donate are users of prohibited drugs, alcoholics, smokers, those tested positive for HIV 1 & 2, and those exposed to recent diagnostic, therapeutic, and environmental radiation.