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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Mar;56(3):328-32. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31827a964b.

Breast milk jaundice: effect of bacteria present in breast milk and infant feces.

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Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey.



Breast milk is an important source of bacteria in establishing the infantile intestinal microbiota that appear to influence the enterohepatic circulation of bilirubin. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of breast milk's microbiological content on the development of breast milk jaundice (BMJ).


A total number of 60 mother-infant pairs enrolled to the study. Two groups were defined: BMJ group (n=30), full-term otherwise healthy newborns who were considered BMJ; control group (n=30), full-term healthy newborns without jaundice. All newborns in the study were exclusively breast-fed. The breast milk samples and the feces of infants were evaluated for content of selected bacterial populations (Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Clostridium, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus species) with real-time polymerase chain reaction.


Bifidobacterium bifidum content in the breast milk and B adolescentis, B bifidum, and B longum content in the fecal samples were higher in the control group than in the BMJ group. The milk and fecal concentrations of B bifidum were significantly correlated. The concentrations of breast milk B bifidum and fecal B bifidum, B adolescentis, and B longum were found to be negatively correlated with bilirubin levels.


Our results suggest that Bifidobacterium species in breast milk may protect against BMJ.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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