White Stool in Children

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Children can have all sorts of different colored stools, most of which are perfectly normal and due to the foods that they ate that day. However, having white stools is something to be concerned about, according to Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Michael Picco, M.D. Reasons for white stool vary, but some possibilities are very serious, so children with stool this color need to be checked out by a doctor right away.

Features

Stools that are white with a slight yellow tinge or light gray and chalky might appear when your child has diarrhea or an otherwise normal stool. It is a good idea to save any diaper that appears like this and bring it to the doctor; although it might look white to you, it might be considered a normal baby stool, according to pediatric specialist Dr. Lynn Cates.

Significance

Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. During the digestive process, it is excreted into the small intestine. This liquid is dark in color and is what gives normal stool its brown color. If stool is white, then this bile is not reaching the stool, either because it is not being made by the liver or because something is blocking it from getting to the small intestine, according to Dr. Picco.

Considerations

If your child is on an all-milk diet, taking antacids, antibiotics or anti-fungal medicines or has recently had a barium enema, this could result in white stool, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. These are reasons for non-liver-related white stools, although they are less common reasons for this problem.

Warning

Most of the reasons for white stool in children are quite serious and are due to problems with the liver, small intestine or gallbladder. These include hepatitis or other liver infections, congenital abnormalities of the bile ducts or intestines, gallstones, tumors or cysts, biliary cirrhosis, sclerosing cholangitis, narrowing of the bile ducts and inborn metabolism errors.

Expert Insight

Dr. Cates recommends taking your child to a doctor right away since hepatitis could be a cause. If this is the case, you need to know so you can prevent others who have been exposed from getting this condition, which can be dangerous in adults although it doesn't often cause problems in small children. Should a drug be causing hepatitis in your child, you will want to know so you can stop using it.

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