Study Finds Little Evidence to Support Treating Red Diaper Syndrome in Otherwise Healthy Breastfed Infants

New Rochelle — A case study and subsequent literature review has concluded that absent signs of clinical infection, breastfeeding should continue normally when mother and baby are diagnosed with Red Diaper Syndrome (pink-colored breast milk and pink-colored soiled diapers) caused by Serratia marcescens, an opportunistic bacteria. The study in Breastfeeding Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, provides for the first-time guidance as to how primary care physicians and parents can determine appropriate treatment and any impacts on breastfeeding. The article is available free on the Breastfeeding Medicine website.

The article entitled, “Serratia marcescens Colonization Causing Pink Breast Milk and Pink Diapers: A Case Report and Literature Review,” is coauthored by Laura Quinn, Elizabeth Matthews, Ann Kellams, Debbie-Ann Shirley from the University of Virginia School of Medicine (Charlottesville, VA) and Melody Ailsworth, Richeson Drive Pediatrics (Lynchburg, VA). The study looked at the case of an 11-week-old infant being treated for fussiness and whose soiled diapers and clothing turned pink. The nursing mother also reported pink nursing pads. Additionally, similar studies involving nine other infants were also reviewed. The authors concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to support treatment of the bacteria in otherwise healthy babies and mothers should be reassured that they can continue with breastfeeding in these circumstances.

“Knowledge that this bacteria is generally not pathological and clinical judgement should thus be the physician’s guide,” says Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine.