Donated breast milk helps hundreds of Estonian children every year

Today, 19 May, marks World Breastmilk Donation Day The Breast Milk Bank of East-Tallinn Central Hospital has been operating for nearly a decade in Estonia, collecting and distributing donated milk for newborn children who need it.

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Every newborn, including those born prematurely, need their mother’s milk as their first meal. If the mother does not have enough milk of her own, donated breast milk is the best alternative. According to head of the Breast Milk Bank and paediatrician Dr Annika Tiit-Vesingi, all mothers of premature children are not able to produce sufficient breast milk quantities immediately after delivery. “Until their own mother has enough milk,” says Dr Tiit-Vesingi, “donated breast milk is the best option for newborn children as it helps reduce future health issues.”

With the help of kind-hearted donors, the Breast Milk Bank of East-Tallinn Central Hospital collects ca 200 litres of donated milk per year – this is possible thanks to the hard work of around 35 mothers who help feed other children in addition to their own.

There are ca 240-280 children born prematurely at East-Tallinn Central Hospital every year. According to Dr Tiit-Vesingi, donated milk is needed more often for children born before week 34 of the pregnancy who are underweight or in extremely bad health overall. “Half of them,” she specifies, “ca 150-180 children, need donated milk every year. Donated breast milk is also regularly shipped to the small premature children in the Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Clinic of Tartu University Hospital.”

Thanks to donated milk, children treated at the Premature Centre of East-Tallinn Central Hospital have almost no cases of necrotising enterocolitis that is otherwise common among premature children and can be lethal. You could say that it is hard to find another medicine quite as effective as breast milk, and this “miracle cure” is needed only in modest quantities. “One small premature child,” says Dr Tiit-Vesingi, “born on week 27 or 28 of the pregnancy and weighing ca 1000 grams, can consume 10-20 ml of breast milk a day during their first days of life. Children eat around 12 times a day, meaning that they get 1 ml of breast milk every 2 hours. The quantities are minute but absolutely vital in the first hours and days of a child’s life.”

East-Tallinn Central Hospital would like to thank all breast milk donors. Together, we can accomplish so much and we are very proud all of you!


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