• 1 National Defence University, Faculty of Medicine and Defence Health, Department of Paediatrics, Kem Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Med J Malaysia, 2019 12;74(6):527-533.
PMID: 31929480


INTRODUCTION: Exclusive breastfeeding for the initial six months of life is crucial and it is recommended . Breast milk jaundice is an innocuous condition that occurs in some healthy, breastfed infants. However, the potential dangers of jaundice in the neonate such as bilirubin induced neuronal pathology, mandates a better understanding of the pathophysiology of breast milk jaundice and the impact of breastfeeding during jaundice. In this context , advice on continued breastfeeding must consider both the benefits of breastfeeding and the possible disadvantages of the jaundice.

METHODS: Reviewing literature and integrating relevant information facilitated the appraisal of this important topic. This article reviewed neonatal jaundice, the entry of bilirubin into the immature brain and how breastfeeding may impact jaundice in the neonate.

RESULTS: While some substances in breast milk may be responsible for jaundice on the one hand, there is an irrefutable spectrum of advantages conferred by continued breastfeeding, on the other. As the breastfed infant benefits from fewer infections, enhanced organ and physiological barrier maturity, as well as the prospect of genetic modification of certain diseases, these useful actions could also reduce risks of early jaundice and its complications.

DISCUSSION: An exciting field for further research, holistic integration of knowledge clarifies both the overall advantages of breastfeeding and wisdom of its continued counsel. In fact, breast milk jaundice may reflect a holistic expression of tissue protection and enhanced neonatal survival.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.