Hanoi's first human milk bank starts operation

March 23, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
Hanoi's first human milk bank starts operation
A nurse prepares pasteurized breast milk for Hanoi's first milk bank at the Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics. Photo by Vietnam News Agency
A human milk bank was opened Tuesday at the Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics in Hanoi to serve northern localities.

The first of its kind in the capital city, the milk bank is sponsored by the Irish government, as well as the Alive & Thrive and Newborns Vietnam organization.

The bank was officially inaugurated after a trial period of four months, during which it had supported more than 1,000 premature, low birth-weight and sick children treated at the hospital.

In the coming time, the bank is set to increase its operating capacity and supply pasteurized breast milk to hospitals in Hanoi and other localities along the Red River Delta, according to the Vietnam Party news portal.

Tran Minh Dien, director of the Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics, said pasteurized breast milk is considered a special medicine given to infants that are seriously ill and must be hospitalized.

According to research, pasteurized breast milk is used as a temporary substitute for natural breast milk to reduce the risk of late neonatal infection by 19 percent in vulnerable and low birth weight infants within the first 28 days of life.

It also reduces hospital stay by 15 days and length of parenteral nutrition by up to 10 days compared with formula use.

Le Thi Ha, director of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, said that each year the hospital receives, takes care of and treats 4,500-5,000 babies with serious illnesses including premature birth, low birth weight, infections, birth defects that need breast milk to meet the nutritional needs of treatment and speed up the recovery process.

After four months of trial operation, the milk bank has received 600 liters of breast milk donated by 38 mothers whose babies are treated at the hospitals for various diseases.

The milk from the pilot program has been so far provided to 280 babies, including 62 who either had Covid-19 or had mothers suffering from severe Covid-19 conditions.

The bank in Hanoi would make the seventh human milk bank in Vietnam.

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