Curious Parents

It's Not Just Mothers Who Lactate. Babies Can Too

Women who have just given birth aren't surprised when they start lactating — milk production is just another amazing aspect of childbirth. If they notice their baby lactating? That can come as quite a shock. But according to a study, nearly 5% of babies produce "witch's milk" in the first two months after birth.

Got Milk?

Galactorrhea, or milk production unrelated to normal breast feeding, occurs in about 5% of infants, according to a study that appeared in JAMA. The condition appears to be equally common in both sexes, and is accompanied by larger-than-normal breast nodules. "When I started to change my son into his going home outfit at the end of our hospital stay, it came as quite a surprise to see little drops of milk forming at his nipples," one mother, who noticed her son's galactorrhea, wrote on PopSugar. "Unsure of where the milk was coming from, I gently pressed on his slightly swollen breasts and saw a small pool of milk drip out of him, the same way it was coming out of me."

Don't Worry, It's Not Forever

According to the research, galactorrhea can persist until an infant is two months old, but has no ill effects. As for the "witch's milk" nickname, in the past, people told stories of witches stealing the milk from sleeping babies and feeding it to their familiars.

As daddy blogger Andrew Jones wrote on the site Thingamababy, "I was shocked, surprised and amused. I had previously blogged tongue-in-cheek about the potential for fathers to breast-feed babies, and here was proof that males can produce milk ... Mostly it was another parenting curiosity, one of those things they don't tell you in baby books."

Bizarre Facts About Babies

Key Facts In This Video

  1. In 2006, a Harvard researcher highlighted September 16 as the most common birthday in America. 00:23

  2. Both male and female babies can lactate. 02:28

  3. Approximately 1 in 500,000 people are born with a parasitic twin. 03:26

5 More Amazing Baby Facts

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Milk produced by mothers shortly after birth is low in fat, saturated with antibodies and is high in protein. 00:39

  2. Babies are born with approximately 270 bones. 01:33

  3. A baby's "soft spot" on the head is known as the fontanelle. 01:55

Written by Curiosity Staff January 11, 2016

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