During infancy many babies may have at least once blood in their stool. Straining to pee, slight hemorrhoids, and other minor conditions in a baby’s stool may cause blood streaks.
However, more severe conditions — like bleeding in the intestines — can also cause bloody stools. So, while people shouldn’t panic, getting the baby to the doctor for proper diagnosis and care is a smart idea.
If the stool of a baby looks red it doesn’t necessarily mean that the baby passes blood. Some red foods, including tomatoes and other fibrous foods, can cause red streaks or patches in a baby’s stubble. So, pay careful attention to what the baby has just been eating.
The most common causes when the red color is blood include:
Constipated babies can continue to poop. It may cause blood-streaked stools, as the feces in the anus causes tiny tears. Physicians refer to it as an anal fissure.
Some of the anal fissures heal by themselves. Nevertheless, they may become contaminated as they cause open wound in an region that is exposed to tons of bacteria.
A doctor may prescribe antibiotics or cream to relieve pain.
Many babies have very difficult or major bowel movements, or go for long stretches without a bowel step. In order to reduce the risk of constipation a baby can may need diet changes.
Blood in breastmilk
Breast milk often has blood in it. It also occurs because the person breastfeeding has the nipples broken or injured. The baby can swallow some blood, if this happens. It can create slight blood stains in the stool of the infant, or make a whole stool look reddish.
Swallowing blood is not harmful for a infant, as long as there is no transmittable disease such as HIV or AIDS in the person breastfed. Nevertheless, treating the nipple injury is crucial, because permanent damage to the nipple can affect breastfeeding and cause infections.
Some infections can cause blood in the stool. Some babies can develop diarrhea when infected.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis is one of the most serious infections. Such infection is more common among other health problems in preterm infants and children. Parents may find the baby’s stomach is swollen or the baby doesn’t want to eat.
Since necrotizing enterocolitis can be fatal, any infants passing a bloody stool or having any risk factors need to be examined by a doctor.
A hemorrhoid is a vein that has swelled outside or just below the anus. Hemorrhoids will bleed when a baby poops, creating red streaks of blood in the stool.
Hemorrhoids are less common in babies than anal fissures, and adults can take a diagnosis of the baby to a doctor.
Many hemorrhoids heal naturally, while others require medication. A hemorrhoid is typically a sign of constipation of the infant, and straining to pee.
Bloody diarrhea may signify infection with bacteria, such as salmonella or E.coli. Such conditions always apparent on their own, but in babies they can cause dangerous dehydration. Babies suffering from bloody diarrhea need medical attention.
Food allergies and sensitivities
Babies with food sensitivities or allergies can have days, weeks, or months of bloody stools. When people frequently have blood-tinged stools, especially after a change in the baby’s diet or the person who is breastfeeding, ask a doctor about allergies. Many babies are allergic to soy in formula.
Upper GI bleeding
Dark blood in the stool or black stools may signify bleeding in the upper part of the baby’s gastrointestinal tract, such as its esophagus, throat, or nose.
It occurs even following a serious accident, such as strangling. Other may include upper GI bleeding due to a serious infection or illness.
Bleeding from upper GI is medical emergency.
The following chart details what different poop colors mean in babies, including red or bloody stool.
Bloody stools do not all require care. Mild hemorrhoids and anal fissures frequently leave by themselves.
Because babies are more vulnerable to such infections, however, a doctor would usually try to identify and treat the cause.
The right treatment is based on the source of the bleeding. It can encompass:
- Pain treatment for hemorrhoids and anal fissures: A doctor may recommend sitz baths or creams.
- Surgery: Some fissures or hemorrhoids do not heal on their own and may require surgery. A blockage in the intestines that causes bleeding could also require surgery.
- Antibiotics: A doctor may prescribe antibiotics for certain infections or to prevent a fissure from becoming infected.
- Fluids: A doctor may recommend intravenous (IV) fluids or electrolyte drinks for a baby whose diarrhea causes dehydration.
- Diet changes: Eating more fiber may help with constipation in older babies. Younger babies may need to switch formulas or drink more breastmilk. Sometimes the person breastfeeding has to change their diet.
When to see a doctor
Some bloody stools are not life-threatening right away. Nonetheless, calling a doctor if there is blood in a baby’s stool is still necessary. A health care provider may diagnose the cause and prescribe adequate treatment.
When a baby: go to the emergency room:
- has bloody diarrhea
- has blood in their stool and a fever or other signs of illness
- was premature and has blood in their stool
- has bloody stools as well as a swollen stomach
- does not want to eat
- seems lethargic, confused, or very sick
Blood in the stool of a baby may signify a temporary problem, for example constipation. This can also signify a life-threatening medical condition, including enterocolitis necrotizing, however.
Diagnosing the condition at home is daunting for a parent or carer, and having a medical diagnosis is important.
Many of the problems which cause a bloody stool are highly treatable. However if there is a significant underlying problem, timely medical treatment improves the likelihood of a positive result, and can even save the life of the infant.