Breastfeeding and Jaundice


  • M. Jeffrey Maisels M.B., D.C.H.

    1. M. Jeffrey Maisels, MB, DCH, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology; Chief, Division of Newborn Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania. This paper was presented at the Neonatal Nutrition Conference held in Cleveland on Sept. 15–16, 1980.
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ABSTRACT: The data to date clearly demonstrates neither an association between breastfeeding and jaundice, nor a significant correlation between weight loss and serum bilirubin levels in the neonate. Breastmilk jaundice is a distinct syndrome in about two percent of breastfed babies. In these infants the bilirubin levels are elevated for prolonged periods but tend to rise more slowly than is characteristic of physiologic jaundice. Although kernicterus has not been reported from breastmilk jaundice, there is little reason to assume this form of hyperbilirubinemia is any less toxic to the neonate than hyperbilirubinemia from any other source.