Why Newborn Babies Get 'Breasts' & What to Do About It

Babies aren't always born looking, er, exactly how we'd envisioned. Here's one example that's thrown many moms for a loop: their newborn has breasts. Yes, it can happen -- to boys as well as girls.

Stranger still, your baby's nipples may even emit milk. Don't freak out yet. Thankfully there's a perfectly logical explanation for all this that doesn't involve going out and buying your baby a teeny tiny bra.


"It is not uncommon for newborns -- girls and boys -- to appear to have breast tissue," says Dr. Sara Connolly, a pediatrician at Bundoo.com. "But it is not a cause for concern. In fact, it has nothing to do with the baby at all."

So what's up? Turns out that when a mom is pregnant, her high hormone levels can also impact her baby in the womb. So while the estrogen and progesterone in her bloodstream are causing mom's breasts to balloon in size in preparation for childbirth, a little bit of those hormones can also seep through the placenta into the baby, causing breast growth there, too.

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"There is no 'medicine' to treat the condition because it goes away on its own," explains Dr. Connolly. Once the baby is born, their exposure to mom's hormones stops; as a result, "the breast tissue will become less prominent over the course of a few weeks."

In the meantime, don't fret -- or, worse yet, poke and prod your baby's chest hoping to see signs of improvement.

"The mistake people make is repeatedly examining the nipples and breasts to check for size and milk," warns Dr. Connolly. Squeezing the nipple can not only be painful, but can lead to infection of the breast tissue. So even if you're stressed about it, leave your baby's boobs alone already! 

Did you newborn have breasts or any other puzzling appearance issues?

Image © Simone Becchetti/Corbis

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