Many parents marvel and panic over the colour of the stool their child passes. Stool colour is DIRECTLY affected by what a child eats and the health of the intestinal tract. Once the first sticky (dark green and very gooey) meconium of the newborn is passed your child’s stools will take on a range of colours from green to gold to brown, varying with food intake, illness and antibiotics. Almost any colour in the green-gold-brown range is normal and no cause for alarm once the consistency of the stool is normal (see How do you Doo?: Part 1). Below is a picture of the acceptable colour ranges for stools of a normal BSF type 3 and 4 consistency.
(photo taken from facebook.com/EnzymaticTherapy)
A stool that is greener in appearance indicates that the bile was released into the intestine but not “processed” but the lining bacteria. This may be because of rapid emptying (including diarrhoea, high fruit or fibre intake and laxatives) or because of a disruption to the bacterial population of the large intestine (colon) such as with antibiotic medication. As bile is processed it goes from gold to green to brown. The colour alone is NO reason to be alarmed in this situation.
GET A SAMPLE
Any drift from this safe ring of colour may be an indication that something is awry in the intestines. Although guilty foods can often be identified as the culprits, the safest thing to do is to GET A SAMPLE of the oddly coloured stool and make a trip to your doctor as quickly as possible. Stool may be collected and stored in a small air-tight plastic container, preferably in a cool environment. The sample should be delivered within 24 hours for best representation.
TAKE A PICTURE
When in doubt TAKE A PICTURE also. Any information you can preserve is always helpful!! STOP and consider what to do before you flush any concerning specimen away.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and many pictures are not for the faint of heart. You can upload your pictures anonymously to http://www.tumblr.com/blog/howdoyoudoo for help classifying what you are seeing at home.
For children under 7 years, it is good for parents to observe the stools consistency, frequency and colour. We will continue to address these issues in this blog. Please post or email your specific questions, we would love to help unravel the mysteries you may be facing.
How do you Doo? is a series written by Dr Carolyn Jackson that addresses common infant and child stooling issues.