Feeding Schedule For A 6 Month Old Formula Fed Baby Common Causes of Infant Constipation

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Common Causes of Infant Constipation

It is normal for newborns to have bowel movements several times a day or as few as once a week. In some cases, although this is usually uncommon, a baby’s bowel movements can go up to three weeks. Laxatives should only be treated if the child is having problems with long intervals between bowel movements and you should seek professional advice. Breastfed babies usually have frequent bowel movements until they are two to three months old, and their stools are usually yellow in color. Breastfed babies usually open their bowels with each feeding, and may have up to 6 bowel movements a day. Bottle-fed babies, on the other hand, may only have a bowel movement once a day or even once every two or three days.

Constipation can be a common cause of colic in infants, and there can be a range of differences in the frequency with which they open their bowels. Any child who does not have frequent bowel movements every day or has very hard stools is usually considered constipated. Constipation can occur in newborns, infants, toddlers, or children of any age. Infant constipation is a common condition but it is rarely caused by medical problems that require some form of medical intervention. In the neonatal period (first 28 days), constipation is rare in breastfed babies, and more likely in bottle-fed babies.

A high percentage of constipation after one year of age often stems from willful reluctance to go to the toilet. Older infants may have this because they are too involved in activities to comply with the need to go to the toilet, but in younger infants it is usually related to potty training. However, regardless of the causes, constipation in children needs to be recognized and needs attention. Unresolved constipation in infants causes stool to accumulate in the baby’s rectum, which can cause distension and colic pain. Prolonged constipation also increases the risk of urinary tract infections in infants.

Medical and non-medical causes of infant constipation include:

  • Switching from breast milk to bottle feeds or to solid foods
  • Not drinking enough water or fluids – this is one of the most common causes in older infants
  • A low-fiber diet for babies in solids
  • Some medications, such as cough medicines, can cause constipation in children
  • Potty training anxiety – especially common in toddlers and older children. Parents should be careful not to be strict with potty training and be encouraging
  • A blockage of the anus from birth (anal stenosis)
  • Hirschsprung’s disease – a condition from birth where the child has a nerve cell defect that affects communication between the brain and the gut
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis are commonly associated with infantile constipation
  • Low thyroid function
  • Lead poisoning, although it is generally very rare in developing countries

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