General Practice 2022

Blood in baby's stoolê: what it could be (and what to do)

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Blood in baby's stoolê: what it could be (and what to do)
Blood in baby's stoolê: what it could be (and what to do)

Blood in the baby's stool appears as streaks, traces or streaks of blood in the diaper and is usually not a serious situation, and can happen due to diaper rash or constipation, for example. In addition, reddish or very dark stools are often confused with the presence of blood, but are usually related to the consumption of foods with strong colors or dyes, such as beets, tomatoes and gelatin.

However, blood in the baby's stool can also indicate more serious conditions, such as infections, intestinal obstruction, or food allergies.

Therefore, it is important to consult the pediatrician when, in addition to blood in the stool, other symptoms arise such as swelling of the belly, bloody diarrhea and/or fever equal to or greater than 38ºC.

The main causes for the appearance of blood in the baby's stool are:

1. Constipation

Constipation is very common in bottle-fed babies or after starting a varied diet, with little fiber, fruit and water. Since in this case, the stools can become harder, usually separated in the form of balls, which can cause small bleeding at the time of evacuation.

What to do: in this case, it is recommended to offer more water to the baby and, if you have already started a diversified diet, offer more foods rich in fiber such as grapes and papaya, for example. It is important to consult the pediatrician, as in some cases it may be necessary to introduce a child laxative. Here are some options for safe natural laxatives for babies.

2. Anal fissure

Anal fissure is a small wound that appears in the anus and is usually related to constipation, due to the presence of drier and hardened stools, requiring more force to evacuate.Thus, it is common that in the presence of anal fissure, a strip of blood in the diaper is noticed, in addition to pain at the time of defecation.

What to do: It is important to make stools softer so that when passing through the anus they do not cause sores. Offering water, natural fruit juice and foods that loosen the gut is a good strategy. In the most severe cases, when the baby has not had a bowel movement for more than 5 days, an infant laxative containing glycerin can be introduced to empty the intestines.

3. Food allergy

Food allergies are also a very common cause of blood in the stool in the baby and can occur even in babies who are breastfed, due to certain foods that the mother eats, such as cow's milk and its derivatives or soy. However, it is more common with bottle-fed babies, due to the use of milks that contain cow's milk or soy protein.

In these cases, the symptoms usually start in the first 3 months of life and include the appearance of stools with buds or streaks of blood.

What to do: It is important to identify the food responsible for the baby's allergy. In the case of an exclusively breastfed baby, it is recommended that the woman pay attention to some of the foods she consumes, and should avoid the consumption of cow's milk, its derivatives and soy-based foods. Know some foods that can cause or worsen food allergies.

In addition, if the child's diet includes bottles with milk made from cow's milk or soy, it may be necessary to switch to extensively hydrolyzed milk and avoid foods that contain them. See how to choose the best milk for your newborn.

4. Diaper rash

When the diaper rash is more severe, as can occur with diarrhea, the baby's skin can become very sensitive and bleeding may occur. In these cases, although it may look like the baby's stools have blood, in fact this blood is the result of the diaper rash.In this situation, the blood is usually bright red and easy to identify, especially when cleaning the baby.

What to do: you should avoid cleaning the baby with moist tissues, preferring to clean with a piece of cotton soaked in warm water. It is also indicated the use of ointments in diaper changes, especially when the skin is injured to create a barrier that prevents direct contact of feces with the baby's skin. See some examples of diaper rash ointments.

5. Infectious diarrhea

Intestinal infections, especially those caused by bacteria, can cause bloody diarrhea. In these situations, in addition to vomiting, fever and colic, blood may appear in the baby's feces due to intestinal infection.

In newborn babies, some more serious causes of diarrhea include necrotizing enterocolitis and enterocolitis associated with Hirschsprung's disease, a disease that impairs bowel movements.

What to do: It is important to see a pediatrician as soon as possible, especially for newborns. Treatment usually involves the use of antibiotics and measures to prevent dehydration, such as oral rehydration saline or homemade saline. In addition, maintaining a diet through breastfeeding, infant formula, or bland foods can help prevent dehydration from worsening. Here's what to do in case of childhood diarrhea.

6. Mini period

Newborn girls may have blood in the diaper that is not related to the stool. In this case, hormonal changes that occur in the body, cause a blood loss similar to a “mini-menstruation”, which passes in a few days.

This is more frequent in the first days or at most the first 2 weeks of life and the amount of blood in the diaper is usually very little, and sometimes it can only turn pink in some areas.

What to do: It is important to show the pediatrician so that other causes of bleeding can be ruled out. If it's really this mini period, no specific treatment is needed if it's not a lot or every diaper change, because it usually only lasts 1 or 2 days.

Warning signs to go to the doctor

It is recommended to seek immediate medical help when, in addition to blood in the stool, the baby has:

  • A lot of crying;
  • Lack of appetite, refusing feedings or food;
  • Excessive tiredness, getting limp and not wanting to interact;
  • Other symptoms such as vomiting, fever or diarrhea.

Even if the baby seems smart and he althy, if there is blood in the stool, it is always important to consult the pediatrician to investigate the cause.

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