My child has white stools: do I have to worry?
This morning you noticed a somewhat strange detail in the toilet: your child’s stools are discolored, whitish. What does it mean? Is it serious? Do not panic: Dr. Laure Abensur, general practitioner, and ex-midwife, explains everything.
During the first years of life, it is essential to look at your child’s stool regularly. Indeed, a change in color, texture, and odor may indicate a health problem! If the stools are white (in scientific language, we speak rather of clear or discolored stools), there are two possibilities.
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Case 1: the stools are discolored but hard
If your child’s stool is very light (even whitish) brown but still compact, it may be a liver problem.
Normally, the liver produces bile, a yellowish-greenish liquid that is stored in the gallbladder, a “small bag” in the shape of a pear. During digestion, the gallbladder contracts and the bile are poured into the intestine: there, its role is to fragment fat into particles that are more easily assimilated by the body. During this process, two wastes are produced: urobilin (which is excreted in the urine) and stercobilin (which is excreted in the stool).
Precisely: it is this pigment of brown color which colors the stools. As a result, when discoloration is observed, it sometimes means that the bile has difficulty evacuating and “stuck” in the gall bladder. We speak of hepatobiliary dysfunction.
The advice of the doctor: “If you notice a yellowish coloration of the skin and dark urine besides the discolored stools, it is an important warning sign,” says Dr. Abensur. A general practitioner or a pediatrician should be consulted within a few days. ”
Case 2: the stools are discolored and foamy
Your child’s stools are discolored (even whitish) but also foamy, floating and smelly? This time, the problem may be with the pancreas.
“Lipases (specialized digestive enzymes) have a hard time” treating “ingested fats, Dr. Abensur explains. As a result, there is a lack of absorption of fat: these are found almost intact in the stool. We talk about steatorrhea. ”
However, lipases are produced in the pancreas: when the stools are discolored and oily, one can, therefore, suppose a problem of pancreatic secretion.
The doctor’s advice: “If you see this phenomenon once in a while, do not panic! After a meal rich in fat, it is okay to have discolored and oily stools. On the other hand, if the problem recurs chronically and if also, the child complains of abdominal pain and nausea, if you notice a slimming, it is necessary to consult a doctor or a pediatrician quickly. ”
What if they are small white dots?
Your child’s stools are normal, but have you found little white dots that move? Caution: it is surely a pinworm infection, a parasitic intestinal disease caused by a worm, the Enterobius vermicularis or pinworm.
To check, look around the child’s anus to see if there are scratching lesions, and look for small moving white worms in her stool, anus, and underwear. If you have any doubts, go to your doctor. He can propose a tape test: this examination consists of sticking a transparent adhesive tape on the folds of the anus, to collect there the eggs of the parasite.
In all cases, a pest control is necessary: to buy in pharmacy!
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