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Mastitis

Inflammation of the breast. A disorder mainly of mothers breast-feeding their children, it occurs in about 1 percent of mothers of newly-born infants usually in the second week after the birth. A painful place appears in one of the breasts, associated with high fever and sometimes cold shivers. The cause is usually a bacterium which has entered through a crack in a nipple. Hospitals in particular may house bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. If the inflammation does not subside quickly an abscess may occur, which could spread to the armpit, or could break out through the skin or the mammary ducts. Treatment consists of making sure that the breast is thoroughly emptied after each feeding: bacteria grow well in milk. An icepack can give relief. Nipples and any cracks should be thoroughly cleaned. Antibiotics may be administered, particularly if there are cold shivers. If an abscess occurs, it must be allowed to develop and is then lanced under anaesthetic. A bacterial culture may be prepared. Mastitis can be prevented by cleaning the breasts thoroughly after each feeding, touching and holding the baby only with clean hands, avoiding nipple cracks and preventing congestion. Nipple caps can be of use.

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