A parent called you feeling horrified after seeing the bottle in the picture, which was sitting a couple days in the diaper bag. The bottle initially contained freshly pumped breast milk that was white in color and fed fresh to a healthy 3 month old baby. The remnants of the milk in the nipple has turned a bright neon pink. The lactating parent is concerned about the safety of the milk that was fed & wants to know what caused the milk to turn pink. What do you say?
Serratia Marcescens is a pathogen that causes pumped milk to turn from white to neon pink color after a delay. This pathogen is more likely found in Neonatal Intensive Care Units, though it can be found in the community. Usually, the source of the bacteria are pump parts that were inadequately taken apart, cleaned & sterilized. According to Quinn (2018), it is unlikely that babies would be able to take enough of the bacteria to get sick. Thus, the researcher recommends that physicians take an expectant management approach for healthy babies in the community. Although red foods can cause human milk to turn pink, Serratia stands out as more of a neon pink color.
Mohrbacher 2020 p 783; Wambach 2021 p. 376; Wambach 2016 p. 442; Quinn, L., Ailsworth, M., Matthews, E., et al. (2018). Serratia Marcescens colonization causing pink breast milk and pink diapers: A case report and literature review. Breastfeeding Medicine, 13 (5), pp. 388-394. Published online, https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2018.0002.