Pink Breast Milk? Could be Serratia marcescens.
What is Serratia marcescens?
- Serratia marcescens is a type of bacteria. While the most strains do not produce color, some have a red/pink color at temperatures below 98.6 F. It can turn expressed breast milk and soiled diapers pink in color.
- Pediatric outbreaks of marcescens have exhibited as bloodstream infection, conjunctivitis (eye infections), pneumonia, urinary tract infection, meningitis and surgical site infection.
- It is unlikely that infants feeding directly from the breast (nursing) would ingest enough bacteria to develop sepsis (potentially life-threatening complication of an infection). Improper handling or storage of expressed (pumped) breast milk could speed up the growth of bacteria within the milk. This is why it is important to properly handle express breast milk. More information about handling breast milk can be found through La Leche League’s official website (https://www.llli.org/).
What the parent might notice:
- Symptoms of possible infection include pink diapers, burp pads, breast pads, breast pumps, bottles and even breast milk.
What to expect from your doctor:
- Evaluation by your doctor is needed if there is any suspicion of infection.
- Cultures are collected more often from expressed breast milk but often can also be done on infant’s stool.
- Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding but it is recommended to temporarily throw away expressed breast milk until antibiotics have been completed. Temporarily discarding expressed breast milk is often referred to as “pump and dump”.