PUDUCHERRY: As part of a strategy to bring down neonatal mortality (NMR), particularly death in the first week of delivery, a Mothers’ Milk Bank is scheduled to be put in place at the department of Neonatology, JIPMER, shortly.
All infants should be compulsorily breastfed for the first 6 months and the same should continue till 2 years of age. Breastmilk contains the right nutrients and minerals for the newborn in the correct proportions. Exclusive breastfeeding prevents diarrhoea, pneumonia and ear infection among infants and these children have higher intelligence and better immunity , said Dr Vishnu Bhat, Professor and Head, Department of Neonatology, JIPMER.
With this objective, the Mothers’ milk bank is being established. Mother who have excess milk can donate their milk , which will be provided to babies who do not get it from their mothers or because mothers cannot feed their babies due to sickness. Besides, mothers who have lost their babies will also be counselled to donate milk to the milk bank, said Dr Vishnu Bhat. Cow ‘s milk or formula feeds, bottle feeding and gripe water are harmful to newborns.
A pasteurised unit with storage equipment is being set up for the purpose at a cost of `10 lakhs. The equipment would be used to preserve the milk donated by mothers. Such milk can be stored for three months. Nurses and and a technical team is being trained for collecting the donated milk, said Dr Bhat.
Though India has achieved significant reduction in infant mortality, yet neonatal mortality rate (NMR) is still as high as 29 per 1000 live births says, said Dr Vishnu Bhat. Prematurity, sepsis and prenatal asphyxia are important causes of NMR, she added.
Roughly around 1500 babies are born every month, which is around 18,000 deliveries a year in JIPMER. Out of these around 10 per cent are preterm babies and five percent very small babies (less than 1 kilogram) which require the support of ventilators. Besides, JIPMER receives a lot of referred cases that arrive late in a bad state.
The babies are not stabilised before they are sent to JIPMER. They are transported in vehicles which do not have temperature control and other required facilities leading to infection and death.
As 50% of all newborn deaths occurring within 24 hours of delivery, and 75% in the first week post partum, the strategy centers on a continuum of care approach.