On 17 August 2017, KKH and Temasek Foundation Cares launched Singapore’s first Donor Human Milk Bank programme, which will benefit 900 preterm infants in its first three years
On 17 August 2017, KKH and Temasek Foundation Cares launched Singapore’s first Donor Human Milk Bank programme, which will benefit 900 preterm infants in its first three years. Find out more about what it does, who can donate and how it ensures safety and quality.
Why a human milk bank?
Breast milk is known as the nutritional standard for newborns, as it contains antibodies that protect the baby against infections and enable better brain development.
But sometimes, a mother cannot produce enough milk herself to feed her child. Formula milk meant for premature babies can help to provide the nutrition needed, but is no substitute for human breast milk, and predisposes vulnerable babies to higher risk of infections.
A human milk bank provides a ready supply of safe, pasteurised human breast milk for premature and sick newborn babies whose mothers may not be unable to produce enough milk.
Said Dr Chua Mei Chien, Director of the Programme and Head of KKH's Department of Neonatology, "Providing safe, pasteurised breast milk from donors to these vulnerable babies allows them to benefit from this ideal source of nutrition while also significantly improving their chances of development and recovery,"
Who can donate, and who will benefit?
The programme aims to recruit 375 donor mothers who are healthy and lead healthy lifestyles. Donors will be required to undergo a stringent screening process and education on storage and handling of breast milk.
It aims to benefit 900 preterm infants whose mothers are unable to provide sufficient breast milk, and are:
- Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents
- born at less than 32 weeks pregnancy
- born at 1.8kg or less
- at high risk of, or diagnosed with necrotising enterocolitis (a condition where the intestines become damaged due to tissue death - primarily seen in premature infants.)
The three-year programme will be first available for preterm infants in KKH. From the second year onwards, donor milk will be provided to the Singapore General Hospital as well as the National University Hospital.
For more information, mothers may email email@example.com, or call 6394-1986.
How does it ensure safety and quality of the donated milk?
With the KK Human Milk Bank, Singapore joins more than 30 other countries worldwide with 500 milk banks in providing the best nutrition for vulnerable babies.
Just as in blood donation, milk donation follows strict protocols to ensure safety and quality. The KK Human Milk Bank adheres to the guidelines set by the United Kingdom National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
1. During collection process
2. During pasteurisation and storage
The donated human milk undergoes a process called pasteurisation to eliminate any bacteria in the milk while retaining its beneficial and essential components prior to it being dispensed from the bank.