Why do newborns poop black poop

Discolored or discolored stools can be warning signs of illness

15.01.2020

Healthy newborns have almost black stools, while older infants tend to have yellow or brown stools. Breastfeeding and bottle feeding can also affect the color of a baby's stool.

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Age, diet, and health are the main reasons for changes in stool color. “If a child passes stool that is discolored or light gray or white, almost discolored, twice or more times, parents should see a doctor immediately. Even if there are additional symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea or fatigue in addition to stool discoloration, parents should go to the pediatrician with their child, ”advises Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Nentwich, pediatrician and member of the scientific advisory board at the professional association of paediatricians (BVKJ). "Red, very light or very dark droppings can indicate a health problem," summarizes Prof. Nentwich.

  • Black: This stool color is normal in newborns younger than 1 week old. During the first 24 hours of life and in the first days of life, a newborn excretes what is known as meconium, which consists of cells, amniotic fluid, bile and mucus that are absorbed in the womb. Then the color should gradually change from black to dark green and then to yellow. After this time, a dark color may indicate a health problem, such as bleeding in the digestive system. If children have taken certain medications or liquorice, this can discolor the feces in a similar way.
  • Yellow or dark yellow: This is the normal color of a breastfed baby's stool. Bottle-fed infants may have stools that are slightly darker and firmer than stools from breastfed babies.
  • Green: Some babies may occasionally pass green feces, including because the baby has eaten more than usual or the mother has consumed green foods. "If the baby is gaining weight and appears satisfied, green poop is not necessarily a cause for concern," says Prof. Nentwich.
    Vegetables such as spinach usually lead to green stools in older children too. Iron supplements can also be to blame for this discoloration. In the case of severe diarrhea, the stool can also take on a greenish color - due to undigested bile.
  • Red: A red color in the feces may be due to a health problem. It is also possible that the baby has swallowed small amounts of blood, e.g. if one of the mother's nipples has bled. Another cause of red feces is blood from the child's lower digestive tract. In older children, fruits like cranberries or vegetables like beetroot may be responsible.
  • Light, discolored or clay-colored: An unusually light stool color together with dark urine can indicate inflammation of the liver or jaundice. Light, clay-colored stools also form when there is a lack of bile, e.g. due to a blockage of the bile ducts, which can be caused by a bile duct atresia - a rare, congenital obstruction of the draining bile ducts. “If the stool becomes discolored in the first month of life, this is a possible warning sign of biliary atresia. A disease that requires therapy as quickly as possible, ”emphasizes Prof. Nentwich.
    Medicines for diarrhea can sometimes also cause these light-colored secretions in older children.

Chair color card

The children's guidelines provide for an examination of the stool color of newborns with the help of a color chart (in the new yellow booklet). With the help of this card, parents should assess the color of the stool for U2 (between 3rd and 10th day of life), U3 (between 4th and 5th week of life) and U4 (between 3rd and 4th month of life).

Swell: Turk Pediatri Ars, Medical News Today, Children Policy
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