White Stool in Children - Causes and Treatment
Stool, poo, poop, caca, dookie; they're all used to make an often gross necessity sound less icky. However you refer to your child's stool, the only thing a parent should really care about is how healthy it looks. Stool can come in all sorts of colors, each one signifying something about the health of the child, but almost always fine. White stool in children, however, can be a cause for concern. White stool is likely due to an issue with the liver and a trip to the doctor is required. If your child does have white stool, oneHOWTO has the causes and treatment to see what you might need to do to ensure your child is healthy and happy.
Different types of baby stool
If your child is a newborn baby, then the first stool it passes is called meconium. Meconium is black to very dark green and viscous. It is sticky and has been described as having a consistency like tar. The reason for this type of poop is because it is from the feeding it has received in utero (i.e. in the womb). If your child is a newborn baby and passes this type of motion, you should know that it is perfectly normal.
If you see black specks in your child's stool, it is likely due to digested blood. It is most commonly from blood around the mother's sore nipples. It shouldn't be of any concern, but you should get it checked out just to rule out any internal bleeding issues. If there is red blood in the poop, then this could be more concerning. It could be due to anal fissure, allergies or even a bacterial infection. It is particularly concerning if you see diarrhea mixed with red blood. If you have giving your child iron supplements, it might also turn a blackish color.
Newborn baby stool
If you are breast feeding, the child's faeces should be green or yellowish and of a mushy consistency. It should have a sort of clotted consistency like cottage cheese. If the poop becomes frothy, it is possible they are not getting enough higher calorie 'hindmilk' during breastfeeding, the milk which comes after the 'foremilk' during a feed. If the child is healthy and on formula, it should be brown, tan, yellow brown or greenish brown. It might look like peanut butter.
Once the children get older, the stool should be similar to our own. You will be able to tell by the consistency if the child is constipated or has diarrhea.
White stool in children
It is likely that the child has an issues with its liver. A common condition for newborn babies is jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. It is cuased by too much bilirubin in the liver. It is normally because the liver hasn't developed well enough functionally, but will sort this problem out naturally as it grows and develops. This will result in the stool being a mustard yellow color. If this persists for more than 2 weeks without improvement, you should seek a clinician's advice.
Another possible reason for liver changing the color of stool is due to hepatitis. This would make the poop light yellow or clay colored. However, hepatitis in children is usually symptomless up until the age of about 6.
If your child has white, silver, gray or pale yellow colored stool, then there may be cause for concern. The dark color of stool is also caused by the liver. This is due to the production of bile salts which turn it the colors we have mentioned above. If there is an absence of this dark color, it is likely that this bile is not being passed down through the intestines.
The main concern if your child has white colored stool is that they have something called biliary atresia. Atresia is the absence, blockage or closure of a tubular structure and, in the case of biliary atresia, this tube is the bile duct which comes from the liver. It is a known birth defect in infants and affects 1 in 10 to 15 thousand babies in the USA. This is unfortunately more in less developed countries.
The reason we mentioned infant jaundice is that the initial symptoms of biliary atresia are similar to that of jaundice. This is one of the reasons medical attention needs to be sought if it persists.
Treatment for white stool in children
In the majority of cases (over 95%), surgery will be required. The specific type of surgery is known as the Kasai procedure. This is where the damaged bile ducts are removed. The small intestine is then sliced so that it may be attached directly to the liver. This allows the bile to go into the intestines to be processed. The stomach is the attached to the side of the small intestine (where it would have normally gone eventually) and this should allow for adequate digestion.
Early detection of the condition is helpful in the success of the surgery. Even if the surgery is successful, it is likely that there will be liver disease. This can mean a transplant is required later on.
There are two other types of stool which are of particular worry. If you your child's poop is made up of mostly a jello like red consistency (like congealed fresh blood), then it is likely a sign of intestinal disease. If the stool is thick and black, but not meconium (i.e. not during the days directly afterbirth), then there is also concern.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to White Stool in Children - Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.
- Contact your doctor if you have any problems with your stool. Changes in colour, texture or shape may indicate a problem.