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Pediatrics. 2005 Aug;116(2):385-91.

A controlled, randomized, double-blind trial of prophylaxis against jaundice among breastfed newborns.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239-2998, USA.



Neonatal jaundice is a greater problem for infants fed breast milk, compared with formula. This study tested the hypotheses that feeding breastfed newborns beta-glucuronidase inhibitors during the first week after birth would increase fecal bilirubin excretion and would reduce jaundice without affecting breastfeeding deleteriously.


Sixty-four breastfed newborns were randomized to 4 groups, ie, control or receiving 6 doses per day (5 mL per dose) of L-aspartic acid, enzymatically hydrolyzed casein (EHC), or whey/casein (W/C) for the first week. L-aspartic acid and EHC inhibit beta-glucuronidase. Transcutaneous bilirubin levels (primary outcome) were measured daily (Jaundice Meter [Minolta/Air Shields, Hatboro, PA] and Bilicheck [Respironics, Pittsburgh, PA]). All stools were collected, and fecal bile pigments, including bilirubin diglucuronide, bilirubin monoglucuronides, and bilirubin, were analyzed with high-performance liquid chromatography. Follow-up assessments included day 7 body weight, day 6/7 prebreastfeeding/postbreastfeeding weights, maternal ratings, and ages at formula introduction and breastfeeding cessation.


The groups were comparable at entry. Overall, the L-aspartic acid, EHC, and W/C groups had significantly lower transcutaneous bilirubin levels than did the control group (75.8%, 69.6%, and 69.2%, respectively, of the control mean, 8.53 mg/dL, at the bilirubin peak on day 4). The L-aspartic acid, EHC, and W/C groups had significantly lower transcutaneous bilirubin levels on days 3 to 7. Fecal bile pigment excretion was greatest in the L-aspartic acid group, significantly greater than control values. There were no significant differences in dosages, follow-up measurements, and maternal ratings.


Use of minimal aliquots of L-aspartic acid and EHC for beta-glucuronidase inhibition results in increased fecal bilirubin excretion and less jaundice, without disruption of the breastfeeding experience. Decreased jaundice in the W/C group, which lacked a beta-glucuronidase inhibitor, suggests a different mechanism.

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