What are the causes of green stool in children?
As a parent, one of the things that you are always keen on while changing your baby’s diapers is her poop. Any changes in the colour, texture or quantity of her poop may sometimes get you worried as it may or may not mean that there is something wrong with your child’s nutrition and health.
Poops come in different colours, textures and smell. The colours usually include brown, green or yellow. These colours are always normal and are determined by what a person eats and may not indicate anything wrong.
You may become upset and concerned when you observe that your child has a green stool. Although stool is an excellent indicator of the overall health, when it comes to children, it is not usually indicative of a serious problem as children are fond of placing everything in their mouth and swallowing them sometimes.
What causes green stool in children?
According to Karen Gill, who is a medical doctor, it’s fairly common for your child to have green poop at some point. This will often mean that the stool passed through the intestines more quickly so that the bile that was secreted did not have enough time to be absorbed back into the body.
For the sake of your child’s health, it is important to find out the reasons that can lead to her poop being green. So let’s find out the cause of the green colour in your child’s stool:
1. Dietary causes
What your child eats is likely to affect the colour of her poop. If your child eats a lot of green vegetables like broccoli, cabbages and spinach, she is likely to have green stool. Eating food that is dyed with green or blue food colouring such as ice creams and some breakfast cereals can also make your child’s poop to appear green in colour.
If you want to make sure that the cause of your child’s stool is not as a result of what she eats, try avoiding those green vegetables and coloured food for about three days to see if the stool will return to its normal colour.
When a baby is born, for the first few days of her life, she will pass meconium, which is a dark coloured stool. This stool is a combination of all the contents that the foetus consumed while still in the womb. These contents include amniotic fluid, bile, water, mucus and epithelial cells. This stool does not have an odour and usually turns into green and yellow once your baby starts digesting the breast milk, which is usually after 3 days.
3. Medication and supplement
Your child’s stool colour can also change to green if she is taking iron supplements, vitamins that are artificially coloured or those that contain fructose and sorbitol. Other medications like indomethacin, which is always an anti-inflammatory medication, can also cause your child’s stool to appear green.
If your child has diarrhoea, she is likely to have green stool. This is because the undigested food does not get time to be hardened due to rapid transit.
5. Bile secretion
Sometimes bile may travel faster than normal to reach the intestines when it is secreted by the liver. It will have little time to change its colour to brown from its regular green. It is the bile that usually gives the poop its normal brown colour hence if the bile does not have enough time to change to brown, then the poop will definitely be green.
6. Food poisoning
Your child’s digestive system is very sensitive to a variety of different foods. One of the symptoms of food poisoning in children is light green stools accompanied by fever and abdominal cramps.
7. Other health disorders
Health disorders such as allergies can also lead to green stools in children. Any other disorders that increase the amount of mucus in the stool may also lead to greenish stools.
At what point should you be concerned of green stool in your child?
It is recommended that parents should seek medical help if their children have green stools accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever or any other symptoms that may make your child uncomfortable. Some of the symptoms that you should watch out for include:
- Chronic diarrhoea.
- Foul-smelling stools.
- Green stool for more than 4 days.
- Change in consistency of the stool that may lead to excessive hard or loose stool.
Since green stools are always loose and watery, you should pay attention to ensure that your child does not get dehydrated. Your child’s paediatrician should recommend guidelines and dietary measures to battle dehydration. You can let your child to consume plenty of water and fluids as one of the ways through which you will be able to manage dehydration.
If your baby is exclusively breastfed and has green stools over a period of time, it can mean that something is wrong. A breastfed baby will normally have a bright yellow stool, and may sometimes appear grainy and curdled.
If your baby’s stool is green and she is exclusively breastfed, one of the possible reasons may be that she is getting too much foremilk and less hind milk. Hind milk is rich in calories and usually, makes the baby feel full. If your baby is only getting the lower-fat foremilk, she will feel hungry very soon and will need to be fed more often.
Due to the increased amount of milk sugar, her body may not be able to cope with that, and this will mean that she won’t be able to digest the increased amounts of lactose properly. This may lead to more gas and water in the intestines leading to cramping pains and runnier green stools.
In many cases, your child’s green stool will be as a result of what she eats. It may be because she has been eating a lot of greens like broccoli and spinach. However, if you suspect that the green stool may be as a result of something serious, then you should seek medical attention.
Do you know other causes of green stools in children that we have not discussed above? Please let us know in the comment section.