Guest of Honour, Madam Halimah Yacob (centre) at the launch of Singapore’s first Donor Human Milk Bank, with (from left) Assoc Prof Ng Kee Chong, Chairman, Medical Board, KKH; Prof Alex Sia, CEO, KKH; Mr Richard Magnus, Chairman, Temasek Foundation Cares; Prof Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth; Ms Woon Saet Nyoon, Chief Executive, Temasek Foundation Cares; and Dr Chua Mei Chien, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, KKH.
Funded by the Temasek Foundation Cares, the $1.37 million three-year pilot programme aims to recruit approximately 375 healthy and eligible mothers, who are willing to donate their excess breast milk, to benefit 900 babies receiving neonatal care in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the Singapore General Hospital and the National University Hospital.
“Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for babies, containing white blood cells and antibodies that protect the baby against infections and improve their chances of survival. The fat globules in breast milk enable better brain and vision development.
This makes breast milk especially beneficial for premature and sick newborns, who have immature and weak digestive systems that make them prone to feeding intolerance and predisposes them to necrotising enterocolitis, which is potentially lethal.
Providing safe, pasteurised donated breast milk to these vulnerable babies allows them to benefit from this ideal source of nutrition, while also significantly improving their chances of development and recovery,” says Dr Chua Mei Chien, Director, Temasek Foundation Cares - Donor Human Milk Bank Programme, as well as Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The first of its kind in Singapore, KK Human Milk Bank will collect, screen, process and store breast milk received from donors, following strict international guidelines for laboratory testing, processing and storage of the pasteurised milk, before it is dispensed for use.
Eligible donors will be required to undergo a stringent donor screening process and blood tests, as well as to receive education on the handling and storage of the breast milk, prior to donation.
Every year, about 350 very low birth-weight infants receive neonatal intensive care in Singapore’s public hospitals.
Despite the best efforts to support breastfeeding, up to 80% of sick neonates in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Care Nursery receive formula milk meant for premature babies, either totally or partially, during their hospital stay. This is due to an inadequate supply of breast milk from their own mothers.
“As a Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative-certified hospital, we are committed to improving neonatal and infant health, and supporting mothers in their endeavours to breastfeed by providing the necessary education before birth, imparting breastfeeding skills during their hospital stay and supporting them even after they are discharged.
This precious supply of ready, safe, pasteurised donor breast milk will be greatly beneficial in helping us to reduce the risk of potential complications in the babies, while optimising their immunity, development and overall health,” adds Dr Chua.
Mothers whose baby is less than one-year-old, and who meet the following criteria, are eligible to donate their breast milk to the KK Human Milk Bank:
More information about the Temasek Foundation Cares - Donor Human Milk Bank Programme is available via the website: https://www.kkh.com.sg/MilkBank/Pages/Home.aspx.
Potential donors are encouraged to contact the
KK Human Milk Bank at: Tel: 6394 1986 Email:
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