Singapore’s first milk bank was launched on Thursday (17 August) by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) to help the premature and sick babies here in Singapore, especially for mothers who are not able to produce enough milk for them. The milk bank is part of a three-year pilot funded by Temasek Foundation Cares, and it wants to recruit 375 breastfeeding mothers and benefit 900 sick and preterm babies born before 32 weeks of gestation.

So naturally, there are questions.

Do parents have to pay for this?

In short, no need. It is free –  words that a Singaporean would love to hear.

Donors’ milk… safe or drink meh?

The milk bank says that they will do their tests and checks on their potential donor mummies to ensure that they are healthy.

This includes interviews – to ensure that the potential donors are not smoking, drinking large amounts of alcohol – and blood tests for infectious diseases, like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphillis.

The milk bank will also be creating donor records to document donations from donor to recipient, and ensure that milk from different donors will not be mixed together.

However, the preterm baby could be lucky enough to get milk from different donors on different days, like eating buffet!!

The milk bank will givechao sng milk (i.e. spoiled milk)or not?

The milk bank will take milk from mummies who have had babies in the last 12 months to ensure that this is suitable for premature babies.

To ensure that bacteria is killed from the milk, yet retaining nutrients, the milk bank will pasteurised the milk at 62.5 deg C for half an hour.

Afterwards the milk will be tested for bacteria.

Safe until cannot safe liao.

These premature babies cannot drink formula milk or cows’ milk meh?

Can, but then breast milk can reduce the potential health risk and complications for these premature babies, and optimise their immunity, development and overall health.

You got hear before right, breast milk is liquid gold for babies hor.

And breast milk contains white blood cells and antibodies that protect a baby against infections – this is especially important for premature babies because their immunity and digestive systems are still relatively weaker.

If you feed them cow’s milk, these premature babies can get a condition known as Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) – which means that the tissues of their intestines will be damaged, and the babies can die.

While there have been informal mummy groups where breast milk is being shared. there are no screening and hygiene procedures in place for donor mummies. All these are done based on mutual trust.

Hopefully, in the near future, the milk bank can be expanded to benefit more mothers and their babies, especially to relieve stress from mothers who do not express enough milk for their babies. This will give them a peace of mind that their babies are receiving milk that is safe for consumption and is beneficial to everyone.

That is all.

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