Demand surge, dip in donors lead to ‘acute shortage’ of breast milk at Egmore hospital

According to lactation consultants, a milk storage freezer went out of use last week due to the shortage. As of Friday, six babies were in requirement of donated breast milk at the hospital.
A woman walks with her newborn along the corridors of the Institute Of Child Health and Hospital for Children in Egmore | Ashwin Prasath
A woman walks with her newborn along the corridors of the Institute Of Child Health and Hospital for Children in Egmore | Ashwin Prasath

CHENNAI:  Volunteers associated with the Institute Of Child Health and Hospital for Children in Egmore have alleged of an acute shortage of human breast milk caused by a slump in donors.

According to lactation consultants, a milk storage freezer went out of use last week due to the shortage. As of Friday, six babies were in requirement of donated breast milk at the hospital. “A total of 1.3 litres of milk per day would be required. The hospital has five litres in stock, which would be sufficient for another four days,” the source said.

According to sources in the hospital, the last month saw a rise in the need for more breast milk. However, the rising demand could not be matched up with the rate of breast milk donation which was substantially low, said sources. The need for more donors even pushed Baby Shree Karan, a lactation professional, to create a post on Instagram looking for donors.

“Increased awareness among mothers is needed,” said the lactation professional associated with the hospital. “Egmore ICH hospital urgently required breast milk! Much of the shortage! Kindly share if you wish to help or message if you have doubts! Premature children need your help!” Baby Shree said in the post on Instagram.

She attributed various factors to the acute shortage, including a lack of awareness. “There was no stock left in the freezer at the hospital a couple of days ago,” the lactation professional said. Meanwhile, sources in the hospital said the institution was feeding abandoned babies over the past two weeks; there were a few caesarian cases too.

“Some of the mothers were away, and, therefore, the hospital had to feed the babies. The shortage may have stemmed from a mismatch in the demand and supply,” said a source. Owing to the alleged shortage, one of the volunteers gave away two additional litres of donated milk to the hospital, on Friday. Baby Shree said she even agreed to collect milk from donors and transport it to the hospital. Continuous awareness is need of the hour, said Baby Shree, who said some of the mothers find their breast milk insufficient to feed their own babies. Meanwhile, the hospital refuted the claim, saying that “they (the hospital) could always approach mothers of newborns in times of urgency.”

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