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Clinic: My baby is growing breasts

Paediatrician Help By Dr Ombeva Malande

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Dr Ombeva,

My two-week-old son is growing breasts. This started three days after birth. I am so worried. I was told to see a gynaecologist to give medicines that reduce the breasts and stop milk from coming out from them, but I think you can help me. What do I do?

Thanks for your question. It is not unusual for babies to have mild or swollen, enlarged breasts or buds under the nipple. In the first few weeks of life, this is a normal manifestation of breast tissue that will later resolve spontaneously. It is caused by hormones from the mother, which crossed into foetus through the placenta and have now made their way to the new-born baby’s breast tissue.

The same hormones that cause the mother’s breasts to swell and produce milk have similar effect on baby’s breasts. In some few cases, the baby’s breasts may also produce a milky white discharge from the nipple. The bud in your baby’s breast is not commonly associated with redness, nor is it hot to touch. It carries no consequence for future early breast development of the child during puberty.

However, if you note the bud to be changing in size, or surrounding redness, and pain to touch, then consult a paediatrician, since that may suggest an infection in the breast tissue, or of a clogged duct that may need further medical attention. Under no circumstances should you squeeze or prod the baby’s breast tissue.

Rarely, among toddlers, some form of breast enlargement may occur, but of a different cause, a condition called benign thelarche. It is more common in females, and is usually related to an increased circulating estrogen level. It usually occurs under the age of three, and the breast may grow in proportion with the toddler for approximately six months before it begins receding.

Rarely, the breast tissue may remain unchanged into puberty period. It should not signal an early onset of puberty or an abnormal growth of the mature breast in a child.

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However, when the breast development changes rapidly or is accompanied with clear usual signs of puberty, e.g. axillary or pubic hair, growth in genitalia, then an underlying overproduction of hormones must be considered and consultation with a paediatrician is advised.

Dr Ombeva Malande is a specialist paediatrician

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