by Anne Eglash MD, IBCLC, FABM
The most common documented cause of breastmilk discoloration is medication. There is little to no documentation that the natural color of foods changes the color of breastmilk. If the breastmilk is pink, suspect Serratia Marcescens breast infection. Anderson PO Unusual Milk Colors Breastfeeding Medicine 13(3) April 2018
What are causes of discoloration of breastmilk?
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.
According to Dr. Anderson’s literature review, which statements are true regarding medication discoloration of breastmilk?
- 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
Answers: C (not A, B, or D)
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.
Milk Mob Comment by Anne Eglash MD, IBCLC, FABM
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.