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Changing your infant’s diapers every day would inevitably lead to an inspection of the poop. The size, texture, colour, consistency and smell would be all too familiar. So, what happens when you notice that its green instead of the standard yellow-ochre? Is it the time to panic? Obviously not! Green poop needn’t necessarily warrant a visit to the doctor’s clinic. Often, educating yourself on the possible causes should be enough to put you at ease because almost every baby has pooped green stool at some point.
What Causes Green Poop In Babies?
Below are some of the reasons for green stool in babies:
1. Transitional Poop
When your baby is born, and breastfeeding begins, the baby will pass her first stool in the form of Meconium(the dark green substance forming the first faeces of a newborn infant.) As your baby begins feeding on breastmilk, this poop will transition from black/green/brown to yellow. This is natural and is no cause for concern.
2. Baby Diet
The inclusion of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or peas could cause green poop. This could be because the baby has eaten the food too fast without properly chewing or the food gets passed through the digestive system too quickly.
3. Imbalance of Foremilk/Hindmilk
This happens when there is an improper mixing of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk (milk which comes out first) has a low-fat constitution and is rich in lactose. Hindmilk (comes out after foremilk), on the other hand, is rich in fat. Together, they form a perfect blend that is required for the baby’s diet. However, when there is an abundance of foremilk, the baby is full before she can get to the hindmilk. This causes digestive problems as there may not be enough lactase to break down the lactose leading to a green coloured stool.
When a baby goes through their teething phase, they end up swallowing excessive drool which can lead to intestinal irritation. It is thought that this irritation leads to a green mucous like stool.
The baby may have a viral infection or may be suffering from stomach flu. This usually leads to diarrhoea in the form of watery green stool. Continue breastfeeding you baby under such circumstances as breastmilk contains antibodies that can help boost the baby’s immunity. If it persists for more than a few days, please take your infant to the doctor as she may run the risk of getting dehydrated.
6. Mother’s Diet
Is your diet filled with a lot of greens such as spinach and peas? Or are there any foods that you have consumed that contain artificial colouring? This can be the reason for your child is having green poop. The breastmilk is also green in such instances and is not harmful in any way.
Iron supplements tend to give out green coloured stools which are normal. In fact, if it isn’t green or black, it’s a sign that the supplements aren’t working.
8. Allergic Reaction
If your baby is allergic to something that has been consumed by the mother or directly by the baby, it may result in a green stool. This could be cow milk or some form of medication. However, allergic reactions are accompanied by other symptoms such as skin rashes or mild breathing problems. Though not fatal, it is best to go to a medical professional for a consultation.
Some newborns have jaundice as their livers are immature and unable to process the bilirubin produced by the body. This is normal and often disappears in a week or two. Anything more could be an indicator of an underlying liver condition and a trip to the doctor is advised.
What are the Possible Treatments?
Most of the causes for green stool is harmless and does not cause any long-term damage to the infant. However, there are some which may need some form of treatment.
- Any viral infection can result in an upset tummy. A green coloured stool is often accompanied by diarrhoea which brings about a more serious problem: dehydration. Dehydration can, fortunately, be remedied with the help of an Oral Rehydrating Solution that should be given based on the baby’s weight.
- For children suffering from a severe case of jaundice, phototherapy is used to accelerate the bilirubin removal by the body. In some instances, a doctor may advise a glycerine suppository.
Oversupply can be regulated to prevent green stool. This can be done through a variety of techniques such as:
- Exclusive Feeding: The problem arises when there is too much foremilk without adequate hindmilk. Exclusively feeding on one breast alone for a certain set of feeds would ensure that the baby gets both the parts of the milk. If the other breast starts getting too full, you could use a pump to relieve the pressure.
- Medication: If there is an oversupply of milk, one can try out medication such as cold medicines which have a side effect of reduced milk supply. However, this approach should only be used after careful consultation as there may be other side effects that may take place.
- Consumption of Cabbages: Cabbages have been known to reduce the supply of milk. You can apply some chilled cabbage to your nipples for about 30 minutes no more than three times a day.
How to Prevent Green Poop in Infants?
- Avoid eating green leafy vegetables as it can cause green coloured stools in infants.
- Avoid giving cow’s milk to an infant as it could result in green stool due to a lactose overload.
- Chart the medical history of you and your spouse to avoid giving any food item that can cause an allergic reaction.
- If your child has an allergic reaction, you can try an elimination chart to figure out which food is the cause of the reaction. The elimination method is where the food intake of you and your baby is recorded on an everyday basis. Once your child gets another attack, a note of the food items that were eaten is made. This food is then discontinued for a few days after which it is re-introduced. If there is another allergic reaction, then it is confirmed that your child is allergic to the said food item.
While green poop is undoubtedly out of the ordinary, in most cases, it can get resolved on its own without any intervention by a medical professional. The main sign to look out for is the overall health of the baby. If your infant has green poop but is in perfect health, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, if this is a recurrent problem, it might be a good idea to go to the paediatrician to get a professional medical opinion.