When Breastmilk is Not White
by Anne Eglash MD, IBCLC, FABM
Health care providers, lactation consultants, and others who work with breastfeeding dyads may infrequently run across mothers who share a concern about a change in the color of their breastmilk. There are very few studies addressing causes of coloration of breastmilk. Dr. Philip Anderson published a literature review on milk coloration entitled Unusual Milk Colors in Breastfeeding Medicine Journal April 2018.
- Maternal iron supplementation can cause black discoloration of breastmilk.
- Maternal use of minocycline (often for acne) can cause green milk.
- Intravenous propofol used during anesthesia can cause the milk to turn blue-green.
- Orange Gatorade has been shown to cause orange milk.
See the Answer
Because this article is not available for free, please visit LactMed and search for the following substances: Minocycline, iron, propofol, clofazimine, rifamycin, and spirulina.
These are the substances that have been documented to change color of breastmilk, as reported in Dr. Anderson’s article.
Minocycline is known to cause black changes in milk. Iron supplementation has rarely caused green milk. Orange Gatorade has not been documented to cause changes to the color of breastmilk.
Although there is little/no documentation of natural food colors and food dyes causing breastmilk discoloration, I think many of us have suspected this. Personally, over the years, I have suspected a small variety of colored medication tablets to cause breastmilk coloration. In order to learn more, we need to document in order to share our observations. Please comment on this Clinical Question if you have experienced or suspected a discoloration of breastmilk by a food or agent ingested by the mother.