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Pediatrics. 1989 Nov;84(5):773-8.

Jaundice, terminating breast-feeding, and the vulnerable child.

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Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


Jaundice is the most commonly treated condition of otherwise well newborns. Although recommended treatments are thought to be safe and effective, the impact of jaundice and therapy on maternal attitudes and behavior is unknown. It was hypothesized that, in contrast to comparison mothers, mothers of jaundiced infants would be more likely to stop breast-feeding in the first month of life, have more separation difficulties with their infant, and be greater users of health care. Both groups of mothers were surveyed in the hospital and 1 month after discharge. Mothers were eligible if their infants were born at Yale-New Haven Hospital after February 1987 and were in the regular nursery. Jaundiced infants had a total serum bilirubin concentration greater than or equal to 205 mmol/L (12 mg/dL); control infants were not jaundiced. Of those who agreed to participate, 84% (85/101) of mothers of jaundiced infants and 80% (124/155) of control mothers completed the 1-month questionnaire. There were no substantial differences between the control and jaundiced groups, respectively, with regard to maternal age (29.1 years vs 29 years) education (66% vs 60% some college), or race (86% vs 82% white). Breast-feeding was more common in the jaundiced group (61% vs 79%, P less than .05). By 1 month, more mothers of jaundiced infants had completely stopped breast-feeding (19% vs 42%, P less than .01). They were more likely to have never left the baby with anyone else (including the father) or left the baby at most one time for less than 1 hour (15% vs 31%, P less than .05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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