All newborns should be fed with mother’s milk, but the role of this food is even more important for premature babies, who are more fragile and with a less well-formed immune system. For them, breast milk is a real shield against some complications related to prematurity. However, their mothers may not have enough in the first few weeks. This is why it was born The Milk Bank of the Gemelli Irccs Polyclinic in Romewhich is added to the others already existing in Italy.
“At the Gemelli Polyclinic we have many premature babies hospitalized in intensive care and many mothers, over 4,000 a year, who decide to have their child born here”, he explains Giovanni Vento, director of the UOC of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care of Gemini. They are given the information to become aspiring donors: it is enough to be in good health, follow a healthy lifestyle and be negative for infectious disease screenings, the same ones required during pregnancy.
The donors collect the milk at home and notify Banca del Gemelli which sends dedicated staff to collect the precious containers. Once you get to the bank, the milk is pasteurized and subjected to bacteriological tests, according to a very stringent protocol to guarantee the safety of the newborn. The project also includes a part dedicated to research, to study the distinctive characteristics of breast milk that vary from woman to woman.
Whether it is donated milk or that of the mother, premature babies who take mother’s milk “see a significant reduction – underlines the coordinator Giovanni Vento – the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a kind of intestinal infarction which represents a very serious and sometimes fatal pathology. The risk of pulmonary bronchodysplasia is also markedly reduced, as is that of infectious diseases”, while “overall survival increases”.
According to data from the Italian Society of Neonatology, with over 40 Human Milk Banks (Blud)l’Italy is the first country in Europe.
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