A study of the relationship between bile salts, bile salt-stimulated lipase, and free fatty acids in breast milk: normal infants and those with breast milk jaundice

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1990 Aug;11(2):205-10. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199008000-00009.


Breast milk jaundice has been reported to be associated with increased lipase activity and elevated free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations within breast milk. We have previously shown that bile salts are present in small concentrations in breast milk and the aim of this study was to examine the relationship of bile salt-stimulated lipase (BSSL) activity, FFA concentration, and bile salt concentration in milks of normal infants and the milk of infants with breast milk jaundice. Mothers of healthy newborn infants were recruited in the early newborn period and 42 provided breast milk samples at 2 weeks, 30 at 6 weeks, 16 at 10 weeks, and 13 at 14 weeks postnatally. We initially studied the effect of lactation on bile salts and found there was a significant decline in both cholate and chenodeoxycholate levels with duration of lactation (p less than 0.05). There was also a significant fall in BSSL activity with duration of lactation (p less than 0.05), but no correlation was found between BSSL activity and bile salt concentration. FFA concentrations were similar throughout lactation and were not related to either BSSL activity or bile salt concentration. There was a significant increase in the concentration of cholate and the cholate-to-chenodeoxycholate ratio in the milks of 12 infants with breast milk jaundice compared with normal milks, the BSSL activity was similar and contrary to previous reports, the FFA concentration was not increased in the milks of infants with breast milk jaundice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts / analysis*
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Breast Feeding
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid / analysis
  • Cholic Acid
  • Cholic Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / etiology
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / metabolism*
  • Lactation
  • Lipase / analysis*
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Milk, Human / analysis*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholic Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Chenodeoxycholic Acid
  • Lipase
  • Cholic Acid