Singapore’s first human milk bank aims to recruit 375 donor mothers and benefit 900 babies
Singapore’s first human milk bank has been launched today (Aug 17). What is it, you ask? The three-year pilot programme between KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and Temasek Foundation Cares will “provide a ready supply of safe, pasteurised human breast milk” for premature or sick newborns of mothers who may not be able to adequately support their babies with breast milk due to pre-term or complicated deliveries.
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Funded by Temasek Foundation Cares — with $1.37 million set aside for the initiative — the milk bank will be managed by KKH, reported Channel NewsAsia. The programme hopes to benefit 900 babies and bring in 375 donor mothers to donate their excess breast milk supply to KKH, Singapore General Hospital and National University Hospital over the three-year period.
All breast milk from donors will be collected, screened, processed and stored by the milk bank. It will adhere to international guidelines for donor screening, recruitment and education, laboratory testing, processing, and storage, before the milk is dispensed for use, reported TODAY.
As for the donors, they have to complete a strict screening process — which includes tests for diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C — and learn about the handling and storage of breast milk before they can participate in the programme.
Providing safe and pasteurised breast milk from donors would benefit vulnerable babies with weak digestive systems and improve their chances of development and recovery.
To be eligible, infants must be born prematurely at less than 32 weeks of gestation, weigh 1,800g or less at birth, and have a high risk of being diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis, which is a gut condition that can cause damage to the intestines due to death of tissue.
Currently, there are about 350 very low birth weight babies that receive neonatal intensive care in the city-state’s public hospitals every year.
With this programme, Singapore joins the ranks of about 40 countries that manage official milk banks.
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