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Nipple Discharge In Babies And Prepubescent Children

Newborn babies have physiologic discharge from their nipples quite often; this is not something you should be concerned about, though mentioning it to your pediatrician, midwife, or OBGYN is never the wrong move.

Beyond that newborn stage, however, nipple discharge — which may be accompanied by sore skin in the same area — should have your full attention, and you should absolutely seek medical attention. Conditions that can cause nipple discharge in young children include:
  • High levels of the hormone progesterone
  • Mammary duct ectasia, a condition in which ducts become blocked.
  • Intraductal papilloma, a benign tumor.
  • A cyst.
  • Mammary ductal hyperplasia, in short a benign overgrowth of particular cells within the breast.
  • Prolactinoma, a benign pituitary tumor.
  • Infantile gynecomastia (“man boobs”)
  • Physical injury can also lead to bloody nipple discharge in children.

When you visit the doctor, you’ll be asked to provide a complete medical history if the doctor isn’t already aware of it, and besides a physical examination, you can also expect lab tests that will help your healthcare provider make the correct diagnosis.

Enlarged Breasts In Babies And Young Children

Enlarged breasts that mimic those of adult females in your young child are sure to have have you quite worried as well. In babies, this can occur simply as the result of maternal hormones they were “subjected to” in the womb, and the problem with resolve itself in this case. Babies can also, however, develop mastitis — which will feature red, sore and infected-looking skin that is also warm to the touch around the breast area. Antibiotics are in order in this case, along with drainage of infected fluids where necessary.

Breast growth in girls eight and up is most likely to simply mean that pubertal development has begun — however early this may seem to you, it’s not unusual.

A Word About Gynecomastia

Gynecomastia is a hormonal issue that causes the development of breasts that look an awful lot like regular female breasts in boys and men. This is popularly referred to as "man boobs". It's not uncommon during adolescence and some men will have gynecomastia into adulthood, in which case it can be corrected surgically if it is causing self-esteem issues. In some cases, gynecomastia strikes prepubescent boys as well. 

Lumps In The Breasts Of Young Children

“Lumps” in tween girls can, again, signify pubertal development. If you or your child do discover a mass on their breast area, however, it deserves to be taken very seriously. Yes, breast cancer is possible even in young children, though incredibly rare. More likely causes include the mammary ductal hyperplasia already mentioned above, as well as the following:

  • Fibrocystic breast disease, a benign condition that leads to lumpy breasts.
  • Fibroadenoma, another benign condition.
  • Cysts of Montgomery, benign and not uncommonly found in young girls. Typically resolves on its own.
  • An infection.
  • Physical trauma.

Skin Rashes In The Breast Area

Skin rashes can indeed be connected to any other condition affecting the breasts of young children as well as adults, but they can also be unrelated and stand-alone conditions such as eczema. In this case, your child will most likely have skin rashes in other places as well. Visiting a dermatologist may be in order. 

In Conclusion

If you've noticed anything "off" about your child's breast area, you can never go wrong in approaching the child's pediatrician. Most of these conditions are, however, benign and you don't need to totally freak out before you do see a doctor. 

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