31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Mar 22, 2022 / 18:14

Hanoi opens first breast milk bank to help at-risk infants

According to studies, breast milk is the most important measure to reduce mortality among kids.

The first breast milk bank in Hanoi was opened at the National Pediatrics Hospital in Hanoi on March 22 with the support of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Ireland, Alive & Thrive and Newborns Vietnam.

The milk bank is aimed at donating breast milk for more than a thousand at-risk infants treated at the National Pediatrics Hospital, who are temporarily unable to access their own mothers’ milk.

Recognized by the Science and Technology Council under the municipal Department of Health after meeting all national and international standards, the bank plans to expand its scope of operations in the time ahead, providing sufficient human donor milk for hospitals in Hanoi’s neighboring provinces.

Addressing the opening ceremony, the Director of the National Pediatrics Hospital, Tran Minh Dien, said that pasteurized and screened human donor milk is a life-saving medicine that increases vulnerable infants’ chance of survival and good health.

 The breast milk bank at the National Pediatrics Hospital. Photo courtesy of the hospital

“Studies show that for vulnerable infants, pasteurized human donor milk can reduce the possibility of infections during the first 28 days in the first four weeks of a child's life by 19%, decrease hospitalizations by 15 days, and shorten the intravenous feeding time by 10 days,” Dien said.

Dr. Le Thị Ha, director of Neonatal Care Center under the National Pediatrics Hospital, added that pasteurized human milk had been provided to 280 babies, including 62 babies affected by Covis-19 disease, who either acquired the coronavirus themselves or their mothers are infected.

For his part, Seán Farrell, development specialist at the Ireland Embassy in Vietnam, said his country is proud to contribute to the human milk bank network in Vietnam, stressing that the banks nourish the group that is furthest vulnerable babies, including those born prematurely, underweight, or infected with Covid-19.

Seán Farrell expressed his respect to all the human milk donors and staff of the human milk banks in Vietnam for supporting miracles, giving babies a better chance at strong, healthy lives.

“Precautions and testing ensure the safety of vulnerable babies who use donated milk. Mothers need to pass a blood test and other requirements to become human milk donors, while their raw collected breast milk will be microbiologically tested before and after pasteurization,” said Dr. Dinh Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Department of Maternal and Child Health under the National Pediatrics Hospital.

After four months of trial, the human milk bank has received over 600 liters of donated human milk from 38 mothers whose infants were undergoing treatment at the hospital, Tuan informed.

The breast milk bank at the National Pediatrics Hospital is among the seven ones and satellite banks of the kind which are currently operated in Vietnam.

The first-ever breast milk bank of Vietnam opened in 2017 at Maternity-Pediatrics Hospital in the country's central Danang City.

The bank has provided breast milk to support care and treatment for some 3,000-4,000 kids each year. The opening of the first bank in Hanoi has laid a foundation to open more breast milk banks in the city.

According to studies, in order to reduce mortality among kids, breast milk is the most important measure.

The Vietnamese Government has tried to improve the breastfeeding rate by increasing maternity leave from four to six months and issuing a ban on advertisements of formula products for children under two.