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February 16, 2004

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Cleveland, Ohio, USA:

Is there a relationship between breast milk jaundice and type 1 diabetes?


Breast milk, as opposed to formula, contains the enzyme beta glucuronidase which reverses the normal process of bilirubin excretion and is thought to be the cause of transient breast milk hyperbilirubinemia. Within limits it has been argued that this is a biological advantage because of the antioxidant properties of bilirubin. This enzyme appears in higher amounts in the breast milk of diabetic mothers; but this seems to be as far as any link goes. There is in fact no evidence to suggest a relationship between breast milk hyperbilirubinemia and any form of type 1 diabetes.