While there is no known cause for breastmilk jaundice, American Pregnancy Association speculates that there is something in the breastmilk that stops some babies from breaking down the billirubin they need to expel. This type of jaundice tends to be genetic and run in families, but it does not mean that something is wrong with the breastmilk or that mothers should stop breastfeeding.
The third form of jaundice is caused when newborns are not getting enough breastmilk and is called Breastfeeding Jaundice. (This form is not associated with breastmilk jaundice). When babies get enough breastmilk, they will have increased bowel movements which will help eliminate the excess bilirubin in their system.
If babies don’t get enough breastmilk because of poor lactation technique, low or slow milk production, or a variety of other breastfeeding issues, breastfeeding jaundice can occur. Fixing the breastfeeding issue so babies can get more milk will help to lower the bilirubin levels.
MarchofDimes.com. Web. 18 October, 2011. "Sick baby care: Jaundice". http://www.marchofdimes.com/sickbabycare_jaundice.html
American Pregnancy.org. Web. 18 October, 2011. "First year of life: Breastfeeding and Jaundice". http://www.americanpregnancy.org/firstyearoflife/breastfeedingandjaundice.htm
Reviewed October 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith