Should I Give Water To My 2 Months Old Baby Common Causes of Infant Constipation

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Common Causes of Infant Constipation

It is completely normal for newborn babies to have a bowel movement several times a day or even just once a week. In some cases, although this is generally unusual, there can be up to three weeks between the child having a bowel movement. A baby should only be treated with laxatives if they suffer long intervals between bowel movements and you should consult professional advice. Breastfed babies most commonly exhibit frequent bowel movements until they are two to three months old and their stools are typically yellowish in color. Babies who are breastfed usually open their bowels with each feeding, and can open their bowels up to 6 times a day. Bottle fed babies on the other hand may have a bowel movement only once a day or even once every two or three days.

Constipation can be a common cause of abdominal pain in babies, and there can be a range of variations in the frequency at which they open their bowels. Any child not passing a stool as often as every other day or passing very hard stools is generally considered to be constipated. Constipation can occur in the newborn, baby, toddler, or indeed a child of any age. Childhood constipation is a common condition, but it is rarely due to medical problems that require some form of medical intervention. In the neonatal period (first 28 days), constipation is rare in breast-fed children, and is most likely to occur in bottle-fed babies.

A high percentage of constipation after the age of one most often arises from a deliberate reluctance to go to the toilet. With older babies this may be because they become too involved in activities to want to obey the need to go to the toilet, but in younger babies this is often associated with potty training. Whatever the causes, however, constipation in children must be recognized and requires attention. Unresolved constipation in babies leads to a stacking of stools in the child’s rectum, which can result in distension and abdominal pain. Prolonged constipation also makes babies more prone to developing urinary tract infections.

The following are both medical and non-medical causes of childhood constipation:

  • 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 babies
  • Having a low fiber diet, for children on solids
  • Certain medications such as cough suppressants can cause constipation in children
  • Potty training anxiety – especially common in toddlers and older children. Parents should be careful not to be harsh with potty training and be encouraging
  • Missing or blocked anus from birth (anal stenosis)
  • Hirschsprung disease – a condition from birth where the child has a nerve cell defect that affects communication between the brain and intestines.
  • Diabetes
  • Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis are often associated with infant constipation
  • Low thyroid function
  • Lead poisoning although this is generally quite rare in developing countries

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