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Experts Urge Mothers Battling Cancer to Embrace Donated Human Milk

Dr. Doreen Mazakpwe, a Lactation Expert mothers battling conditions that do not allow them to breastfeed should be made aware of the donor milk option early enough when they are still seeking antenatal care.

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Experts have urged breastfeeding mothers battling breast cancer or who are on treatment for other cancers to consider introducing donated human milk to their babies than opting for formula or animal milk.

In an interview with URN on Wednesday, Dr. Doreen Mazakpwe, a Lactation Expert said mothers battling conditions that do not allow them to breastfeed should be made aware of the donor milk option early enough when still seeking antenatal care.

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However, while health workers are recommending donated milk, few people are aware of it and Nsambya hospital which houses the biggest bank in the country only stocks not more than twenty liters per day.

Dr. Victoria Nakibuuka, a Neonatologist based at Nsambya hospital says they collect ten to twenty liters a day which is ordered immediately because of the huge need. She says they currently have the capacity to store 250liters which can last up to six months. 

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Their milk she says is mostly used to cater for preterm born babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed and she says the list of those that can benefit is being including older babies born to for instance mothers that have undergone breast surgery. 

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With the huge need, experts recommend borrowing the idea of blood banks into milk banks such that such facilities are put up at regional referral hospitals across the country. 

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Every year, the month of August is always considered the Breastfeeding month since the first week is used by breast milk advocates to increase awareness about breast milk benefits.

However, Dr. Sabrina Kitaka, a Senior Pediatrician says not all babies can take breast milk because there are known contradictions to breastfeeding.

While in other countries, mothers living with HIV are discouraged from breastfeeding, she says the guidance in Uganda is that an HIV-positive mother can breastfeed as long as they are taking their antiretroviral drugs consistently.

She adds that when it comes to cancer, mothers undergoing radiation treatment cannot breastfeed.          

   

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