W: What Is Witch's Milk?

25/03/2010 22:47 | Updated 22 May 2015

Witch's milk, or neonatal milk, is milk that is produced and secreted from the breasts of a newborn baby. Medically, it is known as galactorrhea.

While it is relatively unheard of among parents, it is not at all unusual and affects around five per cent of newborns. It is most likely to occur in full term or overdue babies, and is very unusual in premature infants.

The condition is caused by the newborn receiving milk-producing hormones from the mother while in the womb. This then causes a flow of milk after birth.

Milk from the newborn usually ceases after about two months, but it can persist into childhood. This is more likely to happen if the milk from the infant's breasts is continually extracted. Breastfeeding the infant can also cause the condition to persist, but abstaining from breastfeeding in order to clear the condition is not recommended.

While the condition is totally benign and no treatment is necessary, parents are advised to monitor the situation as there is a risk of mastitis developing in the newborn. Symptoms of this include red and tender breasts and a high fever.

Blood from the baby's nipples is not normally associated with mastitis. This is usually a totally benign occurrence and is caused by the growth of the ducts within the baby's breasts.

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