It was late in the night at around 3am, when I got a message on my pager. I was required urgently in the emergency room, to attend to a young couple, who had come to the hospital very apprehensive and anxious.
While Kijabe Mission Hospital is a very busy centre, it tends to cool off, like all other health facilities at around 2-5am. This is due to reduced patient flows at that time, unless one has a very pressing emergency, or the occasional fatal accidents along Nakuru-Nairobi Highway that notoriously keep night medical staff alert.
When I reached the emergency room, I found this worried mother, with an even more anxious dad standing in the doctor’s room. After the greetings, the angry man said: “My son is only two weeks and is growing breasts, and unless you do something, the breasts will be bigger than those of his mother.”
Only that? I asked. “Yes, or you think it’s a joke, look at them,” he replied.
After examining the baby, I assured him this wasn’t a big problem.
Indeed, babies under one month of age may experience breast enlargement, especially when they feed only on breast milk. This occurs due to hormones passed from the mother to the baby through breast milk. These hormones cause similar breast enlargement in the baby as in the mother. After a few weeks, the baby’s breast stops to enlarge further, and recedes to normal size.
So I advised the couple to take their son home and continue breastfeeding him though the dad wasn’t content with my answer. He thought the baby needed surgery to stop the breasts from growing.
The man stood up, with his wife in tow, walked to the door, looked back and mumbled. “Thank you so much, sorry for bothering you very late in the night.”
“No problem, always at your service.” I answered, and wondered to myself, late in the night or early in the morning? Anyway, for the night duty emergency room doctor, that question never really has one correct answer.