Why Blood in Baby's Stool? - Must Know the Causes & Symptoms
Created by Dr Shipra Mathur Updated on Oct 08, 2018
Finding streaks of red or dark blood in your child's stool can be frightening and will understandably panic most mothers! Blood in stool or rectal bleeding, however, is not always a sign of a serious health problem and can occur due to a variety of reasons that would require a doctor’s assessment.
Is It Blood or Not?
Firstly, we need to be sure if the red colour is indeed blood or not. Certain foods like betroot and medications like iron also cause the stools to appear red/maroon. A simple routine stool test will be able to confirm the presence or absence of blood.
What Are The Symptoms of Blood in Baby's Stool?
Depending on where the bleeding begins, the stool may appear different. For example if the bleeding is in the upper gut, the stools may appear black or tarry as opposed to the streaks of bright red blood that comes from the lower portion of the gut. Along with rectal bleeding, there may be symptoms such as changes in bowel movements and pain while passing stools.
What Are The Causes Of Blood In Stool In Children?
Anal Fissure Due To Constipation
This is probably the most common cause in children. An anal fissure is a small cut in the lining of the anus due to a hard stool. It causes bright red streaks of blood to appear alongside the stool. Treatment aims to relieve constipation with correct diet, increased fluids and medication.
Infectious diarrhea is common in school children as well as in older kids. Blood-tinged loose stools with/without mucus is a common symptom of this condition and the child usually requires antibiotics for the infection.
Intolerance To Milk Or Soy Protein
This is basically a sensitivity to cow-based milk and starts when the baby is introduced to a regular formula. This condition usually resolves by one year of age. There may be vomiting, diarrhoea, and blood-tinged stools. Treatment involves prescribing a special formula that does not have the cow milk protein.
Breastfeeding From Cracked Nipples
Sometimes, babies who are breastfeeding may ingest some blood from their mother’s cracked nipples. Although the amount of blood ingested is very small, it can still show up in their stools. Less common causes
There may be obstruction of the gut as in intussusception or Hirschsprung's disease - rare though serious conditions that require surgery. Crohn’s Disease and other inflammatory conditions of the gut are seen in older children and cause bloody stools, diarrhoea, lack of appetite and weight loss. Juvenile Polyps are outgrowths of the inner lining of the gut in children between the ages of 2-10 years and tend to cause painless rectal bleeding. Meckel’s Diverticulum is a condition present from birth in which children may bleed from a part of the gut that would require removal.
What Tests And Treatment May Be Needed?
It is important to locate the right cause and source of bleeding to treat it. An examination of the anus may show a fissure as the cause. A stool examination is often done to test for the presence of blood, bacteria, virus or parasite. Usually, not many other tests are required. Rarely an endoscopy (inserting a tube with a camera) may be needed to examine the gut. In certain cases, the child may need ultrasound and blood tests too.
Blood in children's stool, therefore, more commonly due to simple problems like constipation. However, if seen persistently will therefore require evaluation to find the cause and be treated accordingly.
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