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Breast Milk Banks, From Brazil to the World
September 28, 2012
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sep 27 2012 (IPS) – Cíntia Rose Regis, 23, not only breastfeeds her 16-month-old daughter Zelda but has also been donating 600 ml a week of breast milk to a mothers’ milk bank in Brazil over the last year.
It was her paediatrician who suggested she donate her milk. “As long as my daughter is nursing and stimulating my milk flow, I will carry on donating,” she said.
“I have never personally seen the premature babies who receive my milk, but just knowing that I may have saved some of them is my reward,” she told IPS. “It’s a question of awareness. If I have extra milk that I would throw away, why not donate it?”
And she added that if she has another baby, she will continue to donate part of her milk.
Breast milk is vital for a premature newborn weighing barely 500 grams.
Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS
Any woman who produces more milk than her baby needs can donate the excess to Brazil’s national network of breast milk banks.
Brazil is becoming an international reference on the matter, and exports low cost technology to set up breast milk banks to 23 countries, as an effective tool to combat infant mortality.
There are 210 mothers’ milk banks distributed throughout Brazil, in every state. And the initiative has led to the creation of 28, in Spain, Portugal and several countries in Latin America and Africa.
So far in 2012, 97,000 litres of breast milk have been collected from 86,000 donors in Brazil and have been used to feed 108,000 babies.
Last year, 165,000 litres were donated by 166,000 mothers, helping nearly 170,000 babies.
The only requirements under Brazilian law are that donors are healthy and are not taking any medication.