A few months ago I noticed that Madeleine’s nose was looking a bit yellow/orange and the maternal health nurse asked whether she loved eating carrots or sweet potato. Yep, she definitely did and her skin had turned yellow orange from it, she had ‘carotenemia’. The term makes it sounds alot more serious than it actually is. In fact, it is totally harmless!
Carotenemia is most often found in babies and toddlers. It is the presence of high levels of beta carotene in the blood causing the skin to become temporarily stained. It is the result of eating large quantities of carotene-rich foods such as carrots, pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes. Dark green vegetables are also high in beta carotene and can have this effect too! It is completely benign and reversible but can often be mistaken for another serious condition called jaundice (yellowing of the skin). This is why it is absolutely crucial to get a medical examination if you are unsure. However, given that Madeleine was her usual bubbly self and otherwise the same (except for her orange nose), I was not alarmed.
The condition can also be passed on through breast milk and is more prominent in those with paler skin and the stain depends on the amount of time and the amount of consumption! It usually occurs on areas that sweat alot such as the baby’s palms, soles of the feet and the face.
The nurse assured me that although Madeleine looks a lot more orange than normal, eating alot of carrots and sweet potatoes will not harm her in any way. It just means that she is receiving all the nutrients from them and will in fact be beneficial for her vision development as well as her general growth and milestone developments.
So there you have it folks, if your baby is looking a tad bit orange, they might be experiencing carotenemia: with very visual symptoms but completely safe and harmless!