Blood in a Baby's Stool -- When Should Parents Worry?

When to Call the Doctor When You Note Blood in the Diaper

Baby having his diaper changed
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If you notice a small amount blood in your baby's stool, should you be concerned, and what may be causing it? Here are things to consider and observe about this distressing symptom.

Observing Your Baby's Stool for Blood

In the days ahead, you definitely want to monitor your baby's stool. Blood that appears in baby poop can have several causes. Some of those causes are not all that alarming, others may require medical attention.

Before you assume what you saw was blood, do think about what foods your baby may have eaten recently. Foods can certainly cause stools to take on every shade of the rainbow.

You want to note if the blood is mixed throughout the poop, appears only in one isolated spot, or looks like a red streak or stripe. How the blood appears in the baby stool may help indicate the source of the problem.

A streak may indicate that there is a tiny tear in the anal tissue, whereas blood sort of marbled throughout the stool may indicate a different kind of problem. If the blood continues to appear in the stool, call your doctor and describe what it is that you are seeing.

Causes of Blood in Baby Poop

Here are just a few reasons why your baby may have blood in his stool:

  • An anal fissure, which is a small anal tear often caused by passing a hard stool. This is the most common cause.
  • A food allergy
  • Maternal blood from delivery or from cracked, sore nipples

Should You Call Your Doctor?

Call your doctor right away if your child appears to be very sick, has abdominal pain, or is crying. Other reasons to call immediately are if there is a large amount of blood, there is diarrhea, if you've seen the blood more than twice, if the stool is black or tarry, if your baby is under 12 weeks old, or if there was an injury to the anus or rectum.

You can wait to call the doctor for a day during their regular office hours if your baby doesn't have these other symptoms. Try to save a sample of the blood in the stool for testing.

Treatment for Causes of Blood in the Stool.

In most instances, the issue is likely the small tear, possibly caused by a particularly explosive poop that you may have noted or by a very hard stool. If this is the case, the blood will likely appear as a spot or a long streak in the stool. These generally heal quickly, but your doctor may suggest lubricating your baby's rectum with a glycerin suppository, using a warm saline bath, or steroid ointment. If constipation is the cause, explore options for a non-constipating diet.

If your baby's issue is not an anal tear, your doctor will be able to advise appropriate treatment once a diagnosis is made.

Source:

Seattle Children’s Hospital. Blood in Stools: Should Your Child See a Doctor? ​http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/symptom-index/stools-blood/. 

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