Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Green stools in infancy

During a consultation it is becoming increasingly common to hear of 'green' stools in the infants that present. What I wanted to find out was what on earth - if anything- does it mean for a child to have green poo?

Apparently it is not abnormal for the child to have green stools occasionally, like once in a few days, but if it becomes a common occurence then this is when it can be signalling something else is going on.
  • Breastfeeding and green stools..
Reading up on my ever favourite la leche league international website, they relate the child to having green stools due to a imbalance between foremilk and hindmilk. If the child is 'snacking' on the breast, poor latching, or improper feeding by the mother (i.e, not staying on the one breast long enough) then child will be getting more foremilk and less hindmilk. Of course, as stated in my previous blogs, if there is too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk, the child will be more hungry, gassy and irritable, and may have green stools.

  • Formula fed babes and green stools..
From the information databases it seems that green stools are more common in formulas that have 12mg/L of iron than 1mg/L iron.
Ref: Pediatrics. 1995 Jan;95(1):50-4.

In general:
It seems as though green stools come about from the faster passage through the digestive system. If the time of passage is slower, the poo is more mustard colour. This way it allows time for the movement of nutrients in and out of the intestine.

In pre-term infants, one study found that the colour and consistency of stool vaired according to the different pre-term formulas given.
Turk J Pediatr. 2000 Apr-Jun;42(2):138-44.

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