BRICS Nations to Establish Extensive Human Milk Bank Network

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS Nations) have consented to establish Human Milk Bank as an outcome of 11th BRICS summit in Brazil.

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“We also welcome the creation of the BRICS Network of Human Milk Banks as proposed in the 1st Workshop of Human Milk Banks,” said a joint declaration of two-day meeting on Thursday.

A human milk bank collects, screens, stores, processes and dispenses donor breastmilk, which has been expressed by a mother and provided freely to a human milk bank to be fed to another mother’s infant.

Human milk banks offer a solution to the mothers that cannot supply their own breast milk to their child, for reasons such as a baby being at risk of getting diseases and infections from a mother with certain diseases or when a child is hospitalized at birth due to very low birth weight (and thus at risk for conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis), and the mother cannot provide her own milk during the extended stay for reasons such as living far from the hospital.

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The largest group of consumers of human breast milk are premature babies. Infants with gastrointestinal disorders or metabolic disorders may also consume this form of milk as well. Human breast milk acts as a substitute, instead of formula milk when a mother cannot provide her own milk.

Brazil which is part of BRICS nations has a comprehensive network of 217 milk banks and is considered to have the most cost-efficient system of milk banking in the world. Since the commencement of the first milk bank in 1985, the infant mortality rate in Brazil has dropped 73% due, in part, to the popularization of milk banks.