Breast milk jaundice-causes, symptoms, treatments

Breastfeeding jaundice is a type of jaundice that occurs in newborns due to breastfeeding. It occurs within the first week of life due to the abnormal accumulation of bilirubin. Jaundice is a condition in which the skin and eyes turn yellow. It is often seen in newborns. Many babies develop jaundice within a few days or weeks after birth. Jaundice occurs when the blood bilirubin content is higher than normal. Bilirubin is produced during the breakdown of red blood cells. This bilirubin is released into the intestinal tract after passing through the liver. The liver of an infant is not well developed and it is difficult for the liver to remove bilirubin from the blood. The skin and eyes appear yellow because the amount of bilirubin in the blood is too high.

The type of neonatal jaundice associated with breastfeeding is called breastfeeding jaundice. It does not cause complications in healthy breast-fed children, but can last up to 12 weeks in some children.

The cause of breast milk jaundice is unknown, but it is related to substances in breast milk. Prevents protein breakdown in the baby’s liver. This type of jaundice is rare and can occur without problems.

Breastfeeding jaundice and breastfeeding jaundice are not related to each other. Breastfeeding jaundice is common in children who do not get enough milk.

Symptoms of breast milk jaundice

Infants usually show symptoms of breast milk jaundice in the first week of life. they are:

  • Yellow pigmentation of skin and eyes
  • Less weight gain
  • High pitched cry
  • Malaise

Causes of breast milk jaundice

Red blood cells are abundant in newborn babies. When the body begins to destroy old red blood cells, it produces yellow-colored bilirubin. Bilirubin is excreted from the body via urine and feces. Breast milk jaundice occurs when chemicals in breast milk prevent liver proteins from breaking down bilirubin.

Jaundice from breast milk can be performed by the family. It affects about one-third of all newborns who receive their mother’s milk and occurs equally in both genders.

Risk factors for breast milk jaundice

The family history of jaundice in newborns breastfeeding is one of the major risk factors.

Diagnosis of breast milk jaundice

Breastfeeding consultants will examine your baby’s feed to ensure that it is properly latched and that milk production is adequate. Lactation consultants are breastfeeding specialists trained to help mothers learn how to breastfeed their babies. When the consultant finds that the baby is tightly latched and is consuming a sufficient amount of milk, a diagnosis of milk jaundice is made. The surgeon will do a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. This test determines how much bilirubin is in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin levels above a certain threshold indicate jaundice.

Treatment of breast milk jaundice

Breastfeeding an infant is completely safe. Jaundice is a temporary illness and should not prevent you from benefiting from breast milk. Parents can monitor mild or moderate jaundice at home. Your doctor will advise your mother to breastfeed your baby more regularly or to supplement your milk with infant formula. Helps the baby pass bilirubin through feces and urine.

Treatment is determined by:

  • Bilirubin levels in the baby’s blood steadily throughout the first week of birth.
  • How fast did the bilirubin level rise?
  • Did the child give birth prematurely?
  • How do your babies eat?

Bilirubin levels are often within the normal limits of a baby’s age. These levels are usually higher in newborns than in older children and adults. Other than careful monitoring, there is no need for treatment in this situation. Make sure your baby is breastfeeding enough to avoid jaundice caused by inadequate breastfeeding.

  • From the first day, feed about 10 to 12 times a day. Feed the baby every time he wakes up, sucks his hand or hits his lips. It’s a way for babies to tell their hunger.
  • If the mother waits for food until the baby cries, it will be difficult to feed.
  • As long as your baby sucks and swallows regularly, your baby can spend as much time on each breast as he wants. Babies who don’t feel hungry will relax, clasp their hands and fall asleep.

If breastfeeding doesn’t work, seek help from your breastfeeding consultant or doctor as soon as possible. Babies who give birth before 37 or 38 weeks are more likely to need further assistance. While learning to breastfeed, mothers need to milk or milk frequently to keep up with demand.

  • Mothers must supply their babies with increased amounts of milk by breastfeeding or milking more often (up to 12 times a day). They can lower bilirubin levels.
  • Talk to your doctor before deciding to give infant formula.
  • Spending “skin-to-skin” time with your baby also helps to nourish your baby and produce more milk.

Water is given intravenously and helps raise water levels and lower bilirubin levels in babies who cannot eat properly.

If the baby’s bilirubin level is too high, the baby may be placed under a special blue light to help break it down (phototherapy).

Phototherapy treats severe jaundice at the hospital or at home. Infants are exposed to specific light for 1-2 days during phototherapy. Light changes the structure of bilirubin molecules, allowing them to be removed from the body more quickly. To avoid eye injuries, babies wear protective goggles throughout phototherapy.

Preventive measures for breast milk jaundice

Most outbreaks of breast milk jaundice are unavoidable. Even if parents are worried about breastfeeding jaundice in their baby, do not stop breastfeeding until your doctor tells you to.

Breast milk is necessary for the health of newborns. It provides the newborn with all the essential nutrients and at the same time protects the newborn from illness and infections. It is recommended that the baby be breastfed 8-12 times daily for the first 6 months of life.


With proper treatment and close supervision, infants with breast milk jaundice often recover. If the child’s liver becomes more effective and he continues to drink a sufficient amount of milk, the condition usually disappears after a week or two. Even with careful treatment, jaundice can last up to 6 weeks after birth. In some cases, it may be a sign of another underlying medical problem that requires more intensive treatment.

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