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Thread: Breastmilk jaundice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Breastmilk jaundice

    Hi everyone,

    My DD is 4 weeks old. She's been jaundiced since week 1. We've been having her bilirubin tested and she's steady between 15 and 16. At first my ped thought it was breastfeeding jaundice, but she's gaining very well (is now 11 lbs 5 oz). So now he is saying that it is breastmilk jaundice and has recommended that I give her formula exclusively for 2 days to bring her level down.

    I absolutely will not do this and I told him this. I have been researching as much as I can and have been reading that I don't have to stop bfing.

    Is this a problem that will go away on it's own? Is it really even a "problem?" My family has me concerned that damage will be done if I don't take the ped's advice, but I feel strongly about not stopping the bfing.

    (Just some back info- this is my 2nd and I bf my first DD for 16 months)

    Any advice or personal experience is appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    3,900

    Default Re: Breastmilk jaundice

    It sounds like you've been doing your research!

    Late onset jaundice, aka breastmilk jaundice, usually completely goes away by 8 weeks.

    Has your doctor performed tests to rule out pathologic causes for the jaundice?

    Here are some quotes from The Breastfeeding Answer Book (2003) pg 264:

    If a baby is growing well and the mother's milk supply is adequate, the doctor may want to do tests to rule out causes pathological jaundice. Breastfeeding can and should continue unless the jaundice is found to be caused by a metabolic disease such as galactasemia.
    Prolonged jaundice or elevated bilirubin will eventually clear on its own without interrrupting breastfeeding, although it may take up to three months before the bilirubin levels drop to adult levels.
    Breastfeeding should not be interrrupted even in the more severe cases of jaundice, either to make a diagnosis of breast milk jaundice or for fear of kernicterus unless the serum bilirubin concentration is 20 mg/dl or higher or rising rapidly. The proved benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh any theroretical advange of reducing milk to moderate jaundice.
    HTH! If you have further questions or need more info, don't hesitate to ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Breastmilk jaundice

    Thanks, Jolie!

    What other tests would my ped run? He did test for her blood type to make sure we were compatable and he did a coombs test? Not sure if those are the ones you are referring to.

    He did mention to me today about ordering the blanket for her to lower her levels. Any thoughts on using one? Natural sun best?

    Thanks so much!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    100

    Default Re: Breastmilk jaundice

    Hello mommy2girls,

    Both my sons had such severe cases of breastmilk jaundice which one continued to have still at 11 weeks, and second son had it for about 8 weeks. I never stopped breastfeeding with either of them. I also wasn't told that I needed to. However I had the bili lights cause their levels were so high that it would cause brain damage. In Canada we do readings different here, my first son was at 292 and second was 320, you might find if they continue to do bili tests that it will go up and down constantly. That's very common of breastmilk jaundice. Just hang in there and things will work out on their own. Breastmilk jaundice can last for what seems like forever. I have really heard much on using the blankets cause well personally I didn't use one. Natural sun is good, but don't kid me here, my first son was born in the summer basically, lots of sun he kept the jaundice till 11 weeks. So I think nothing really helps I don't care what others might say cause if natural sun was to help ds1 wouldn't have been jaundiced for so long. So just nurse nurse nurse till it goes away. The more they take in the more they get rid of. I don't know if you read though you do see it come out in the poops but it's actually the pee that gets rid of it. Breastmilk jaundice is caused cause your breastmilk has an extra something in not actually sure what it's called anymore though. I don't know if this is your first one or not but you might find that when you have a son he might not have it as that's what happened to my daughter.

    HTH

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    3,900

    Default Re: Breastmilk jaundice

    Trying the blanket couldn't hurt, but it may not drasticly lower the levels. Note that babies need to nurse frequently while using the blanket.

    Do keep us updated! And if you need more info, don't hesitate to ask.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: Breastmilk jaundice

    My son was also very jaundiced, his levels actually got up to 18. I never stopped bfing and it probably did take a little longer to go away, but my ped never even suggested that I not bf. She did have me give him about an oz of formula after he would bf, just to get him really full, to get all the bili out. We put him under the lights and it only took 12 hours for his levels to drastically go down, we were able to take him off of them. It still took a little while for it to totally clear up but at least the levels weren't dangerously high. Like the pp said they do dehydrate so I just made sure he was eating every hour in a half and he did great. I think it's great your listening to your instincts - how can formula be better for your baby than breastmilk, I wouldn't want to put my baby exclusively on formula either. Jessica

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