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Breast milk jaundice

  • Definition

    Jaundice is a condition that causes the skin and parts of the eyes to turn a yellow color.

    Breast milk jaundice is long-term jaundice in an otherwise healthy, breast-fed baby. It develops after the first week of life and continues up to the sixth week of life.


    Alternative Names

    Hyperbilirubinemia - breast-feeding


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that is created as the body gets rid of old red blood cells. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed from the body in the stool.

    If jaundice occurs or persists past the first week of life in an otherwise healthy and thriving breast-fed infant, the condition may be called "breast milk jaundice." It is probably caused by factors in the breast milk, which block certain proteins in the liver that break down bilirubin.

    Breast milk jaundice tends to run in families. It occurs equally often in males and females and affects approximately 0.5% to 2.4% of all newborns.