Breastmilk reserves critically low

With the spotlight on World Prematurity Day (observed on 17 November), the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) has issued an urgent call for breastmilk donations as reserves run critically low.

A mother’s own milk is essential for the survival of a premature baby. However, donated breastmilk is often given when a mother’s milk is not available.

“We’ve seen so much success in hospitals where we supply donated breastmilk. So it is ironic that after World Prematurity Day our stock is running critically low,” says Stasha Jordan, SABR Executive Director.

“We urge everyone to spread the message calling for breastmilk donations,” she continues.

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Of the annual 1 million births in South Africa, around one in ten babies is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed and are premature. If these babies’ mothers are unable to supply the required volume of milk, additional donated breast milk is essential.

According to Paediatrics Emeritus Professor, Suzanne Delport, “Premature births are the result of a variety of mostly unpreventable reasons. However, sometimes caesarean sections are scheduled too early without sound medical reasoning. This is a preventable factor that has become a trend in the private sector. We must urge against such behaviour.”

“Complications of prematurity are the most common cause of death in the first 28 days of life. As well as deaths in children under 5 years of age,” says Delport.

“Premature babies who survive also face an increased risk of cerebral palsy, delayed neurodevelopment, and other long-term negative health effects. We need to do our best to ensure these babies get all the help that they need to stand a fighting chance of survival.”

Why is breastmilk so essential for preemies?

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Breastmilk has been called the best nourishment for premature babies. Breast milk  provides nutrients that weren’t transferred during the shortened gestation period.

“While it is quite a sacrifice for a mother, who is already breastfeeding her own baby, to spend additional time and energy expressing milk for donation, it is not done in vain. She is a hero,” concludes Jordan.

About The South African Breastmilk Reserve

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The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) is a not-for-profit, human milk-banking organisation, founded in 2003. They are primarily an altruistic human milk-banking network. However, they also focus on breastfeeding advocacy and promotion, in order to grow breastfeeding in South Africa.

Their vision is to decrease infant mortality resulting from Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.  They want to contribute to a South Africa “living with HIV/AIDS”, rather than a South Africa “dying of HIV/AIDS”.

The SABR is a member of the South African Civil for Women’s Adolescent’s and Children’s Health (SACSoWACH), a Coalition of 22 civil society organizations that work to bring health care to the needy.

For more information on SABR and breastmilk donation, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: info@sabr.org.za.

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