Surrogate children in India deprived of mother’s milk

Goes the headline in a major Indian Newspaper! The reporter states that “The Health Ministry guidelines on the regulation of ART clinics fail to address the issue of breast feeding for surrogate children”. According to the journalist, “In their haste to hold their babies in their arms, commissioning parents tend to overlook the infant’s need for mother’s milk, despite the fact that is has been scientifically established that mother’s milk is a critical source of nutrition for the infant”.

According to Dr. Samit Sekhar, whilst the headline is true, it is misleading as babies born to surrogate mothers do get adequate nutrition through formula feeds.surrogate children

Whilst one can never deny the importance of Breast milk as a source of nutrition for the infant, there are cases in which formula milk needs to be used.

“Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed a baby. Nature has created a unique way of having the right amount of milk in the right place, right temperature and at the right composition”.

However, not all women are able to breastfeed. For instance, some women who have had breast surgery can have difficulty breastfeeding. And of course single/gay men for obvious reasons cannot breast feed.

According to Dr. Sekhar, who is the IVF and Surrogacy program Director at the Kiran Infertility Centre “In such cases formula feeding is a good idea. A lot of scientific studies show that there’s no great difference in the nutritional or food value of the Breast milk Versus Formula feeds. If a mother either can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed her baby, then formula is more than sufficient to feed and provide adequate nutrition to the new born. However, it’s vital to buy the correct milk powder to suit the age of the baby. It is also extremely important when mixing up a formula to use the correct amount of powder for the weight of the baby”.

At Kiran Infertility Centre, a nutritionist is in place to help the intended parents and guide them through this. According to Miss Cristina who is the Chief nutritionist at Kiran Infertility Centre, “While using formula, it’s important to be clean and hygienic. Always wash hands before making a bottle, powdered formulas are sterile but may contain bacteria that could give your baby a stomach upset if they are not prepared correctly. Powders must be mixed with water that has been boiled and then left to cool to around 70°C”.

About the Author:
Dr. Samit Sekhar
IVF and Surrogacy Program Director.
Kiran Infertility Centre, Hyderabad.