Singapore’s first breast milk donation bank: What you should know

August 17, 2017
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    A milk bank has been launched by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) to help new mothers who cannot produce milk for their babies.

    This includes babies who may be premature or very sick.

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    The hospital hopes that about 375 donors will step forward to give their excess milk over the next three years, and help supply the needs of 900 babies.

    The programme, which costs $1.37 million, is funded by philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation Cares.

    Related: 7 things you should not say to a new mum struggling to breastfeed

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    Dr Chua Mei Chien, who is a senior consultant in KKH’s neonatology department, said at the launch of the milk bank on Thursday (Aug 17) that breast milk contains white blood cells and antibodies that protect a baby against infections.

    “The fat globules in breast milk enable better brain development as well as development of vision,” she added.

    Related: 4 tips to pump more breast milk

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    The bank will adhere to the guidelines established in the United States and Britain.

    All donor mothers will have to undergo a blood test for diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C infection. They will be allowed to donate only if they lead healthy lifestyles and do not engage in “high-risk activities” such as smoking.

    Related: Why you should put your phone down while breastfeeding

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    Mothers who take part will express milk at home and freeze it before taking it to the milk bank. This milk will be pasteurised at 62.5 deg C and tested for bacterial contamination before it is dispensed.

    Donated milk will also be tracked to make sure that individual donors can be traced right to the recipient.

    Related: Should you accept breast milk from other mums?

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    Presidential candidate and former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said at the launch of the milk bank that the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore has issued a statement to say it is acceptable for premature Muslim babies to drink donor milk, as it is for the child’s well-being.

    Currently, eight in 10 sick babies in KKH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Nursery are fed some formula milk, as their mothers do not produce enough for them.

    Related: Breastfeeding and confinement recipe: Green papaya soup with fish

     

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    If you are interested to be a donor, your baby should be under one year old and you:
    – do not smoke.
    – do not use illegal drugs or other prohibited substances.
    – do not routinely consume more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day.
    – do not routinely consume three or more cups of coffee, tea, or other caffeine stimulant drinks per day including cola and stimulant soft drinks.
    – have not lived in or travelled to the UK between 1980 and 1996 for a total or cumulative period of six months.
    – have not been tested positive for HIV, Hepatitis B and C or Syphilis.

     

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    To find out more about the milk bank programme, call 6394-1986 or e-mail: milkbank@kkh.com.sg.

    KK Human Milk Bank 
    Level 2, Women’s Tower
    KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
    100 Bukit Timah Road
    Singapore 229899

    Operating hours:
    Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 5.00pm (closed for lunch from 1.00pm to 2.00pm)
    (Closed on Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays)

    A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.

    (Photos: The Straits Times and 123RF)

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