● ‘NO’ Vertical transmission of COVID-19 through breastfeeding
● Breastfeeding rates in Karnataka for infants under the age of 6 months have shown a fall of 5% in the last decade; 47% of infants are not being breastfed exclusively
● It has become essential to focus on promoting breastfeeding practices and spreading awareness around the subject in families and in public.
● Providing alternate options through milk banks such as Amaara can be beneficial for those children whose mothers cannot breastfeed them due to various reasons.
Bangalore, 1st August 2020: Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond road today along with Breast Milk Foundation supports World Breastfeeding Week through its pioneering initiative, ‘Amaara’ the first Pasteurized Human Milk Bank in Bengaluru,Karnataka launched 34 months ago in collaboration with the Breast Milk Foundation. The objective of Amaara is to provide all premature and critically-ill babies with human breast milk. Through this initiative, an opportunity is provided to all qualified donors across Karnataka to donate their milk.
According to WHO at present, data are not sufficient to conclude vertical transmission of COVID-19 through breastfeeding. In infants, the risk of COVID-19 infection is low, the infection is typically mild or asymptomatic, while the consequences of not breastfeeding and separation between mother and child can be significant. At this point it appears that COVID-19 in infants and children represents a much lower threat to survival and health than other infections that breastfeeding is protective against. The benefits of breastfeeding and nurturing mother-infant interaction to prevent infection and promote health and development are especially important when health and other community services are themselves disrupted or limited. Adherence to infection prevention and control measures is essential to prevent contact transmission between COVID-19 suspected or confirmed mothers and their newborns and young infants. Based on available evidence, WHO recommendations on the initiation and continued breastfeeding of infants and young children also apply to mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
In the past decade, Karnataka has witnessed a 5% fall in infants under the age of 6 months who are exclusively breastfed. As per the data available, National Family Health Survey reports that 54.2% infants younger than 6 months are breastfed exclusively, which was 58.6% in 2005-06. The overall record in India is 55% on the same parameters, with a large ground left to cover in the direction. Promoting healthy breastfeeding practices comes across as of paramount importance to encourage family member and mothers to support breastfeeding in families.
Mr Srikant Subudhi, Facility Director and Unit Head, Fortis La Femme Hospital said; “As a healthcare company based on women’s health, much of our effort is to promote breastfeeding. While in India the breastfeeding initiation rate is 41.5%, according to UNICEF; at Fortis La Femme the average rate for the last quarter is around 80% for all our 4 units. In fact, at Bangalore unit we have the breastfeeding rate past 89%. While the government is progressing towards designing policies and making efforts to facilitate breast feeding, we as an organization also leave no stone unturned to ensure this healthy practice for all our patients with trained and certified Lactation counsellors available to provide guidance and support. For our external patients, we have information sharing groups, a Breast feeding support line and appointments available with our experts through the journey. Breastfeeding is the first benchmark of motherhood and we believe in educating and supporting women on it from all possible directions. We have even got a Breast Milk Bank at two of our hospitals to stretch our support to premature infants who need the nourishment of Breast milk but May have to rely on donor milk for the initial period. All babies have a right to Mother’s milk and we at La Femme ensure to make it happen!”
Dr Sreenath Manikanti, HOD Neonatology, Fortis La Femme Hospital,who also Heads Amaara Human Milk Bank said :Breast feeding is complete nutrition to the infant and a convenient method of feeding the infant with many added advantages. Apart from containing all the nutrients that a baby needs, it is easily digestible and is assimilated by the body, protects baby from infections as antibodies from the mother protects the infant who is breastfed, is an economical and a natural way to promote mother baby bonding, prevents allergic reaction and subsequent development of lifestyle diseases during adulthood such as diabetes &coronary heart disease. Breastfeeding helps the baby’s physical and intellectual development, protects mother’s health by helping early involution of the uterus, reduces post partum bleeding, so prevents anemia, reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and helps delay the birth of the second child.
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