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Can it be true that breastfed babies are more susceptible to jaundice?

Yes it is true. The level of bilirubin in breastfed babies is higher than that in babies fed on formula from the start. This increased level of bilirubin can persist for up to six weeks, but is not a reason to stop breastfeeding.

The temptation to supplement the breastfed baby with water or glucose water is not a good idea, as it seems to raise the bilirubin levels even higher. In addition it is vital to breastfeed regularly during these early days in order to get feeding established. If possible, feeding the baby immediately after birth can reduce the severity of the jaundice.

There are a very tiny number of babies for whom breastfeeding causes a serious problem concerning jaundice. Usually they develop jaundice later than other babies, after a week or so of life. It is possible that some breastmilk contains a substance that slows the breakdown of bilirubin. If this is the case you and your doctor will be carefully monitoring the situation and your doctor may suggest a variety of treatments, which may include formula supplementation for a limited amount of time until the jaundice clears.




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