Difficulty in passing stools or passing hard stool infrequently is known as Constipation. When an infant failed bowel movement for more than three days is said to be Infant constipation. Infants passes nearly three to four stools a day. Constipation is not the main complaint with mother milk fed infants. Formula fed infants usually passes stool not frequently. Infant constipation is common with formula fed newborn. Toddlers normally passes stool two times a day.
Causes of infant constipation
Normally the colon absorbs the water from the digested food and bowel movement helps in expelling the fecal matter or waste from the body. The excess absorption of water from colon, reduced bowel movement, Less fibre food are responsible for constipation. The less water content in formula or mother’s milk, Infrequent feeding of newborn or infant reduces bowel movement and stool becomes sticky and hard. This is the mechanism of constipation in newborn or infant.
When bowel movement decreases, fecal material remains in colon for long time, and water removal process of colon increases and excess water is observed. The stool mass becomes excessively dry and hard and leads to constipation in newborn, infant and children.
Constipation in newborns occurs with high nutrient milk feeding to baby,
Formula fed infant bowel movement becomes low and leads to bowel constipation.
Infants or newborns starts weaning food may get bowel constipation.
Transition from weaning food to table food leads to infant constipation.
Newborn constipation : Constipation seen in newborns is called as newborn constipation. Usually newborns passes feces within 24 hours of birth.
Naturally sluggish colon with decreased motility.
Insufficient food to stimulate normal propulsive activity of colon, is what happens with newborn and infants. Toddlers who refuses to take food becomes constipated because of this cause.
Consuming low residue Diet, Mother milk fed to newborn is a low residue diet leads to newborn constipation.
Starting weaning or providing solids to infant leads to infant constipation because of low bowel movement as is not adopted to pass solid food. This infant constipation is relieved later.
Neurological damage : Damage of nerve which supplies colon makes rectum and anus not to relax and evacuation is not possible. The result is newborn or infant constipation.
Anatomical obstruction in the lower digestive tract or bowel abnormality also leads to bowel constipation.
Presence of tumor in the bowel or lower intestinal tract.
Identifying Child constipation is very difficult as the child doesn’t express it is constipated. Child constipated for more than three days may complaint lower abdominal pain and irritable bowel. Infants and grown children complaints difficulty in passing stool and cries. Newborns can’t express they are constipated and the severe constipated newborn cries and becomes very irritable. Toddler constipation can be identified easily by parents as the constipated toddler can explain the symptoms.
Treatment for constipation
Diet modifications and medications are the main treatment methods of newborn constipation.
- Rectal examination is indicated for constipated newborns.
- Laxatives can be used with feeding of infant
- Modification of formula feeding
- Weaning shouldn’t include much solids, after weaning give plenty of fluids,
- Treat underlying cause of constipation in case of child constipation.
When home remedies of constipation fails in relieving constipation, medications are preferred.
- Laxatives are the medical remedy for constipation in toddlers and children.
- Corn syrup in the formula is given to infants and newborns.
- Fruit juices are highly beneficial in relieving constipation.
Fiber rich food is given for grown children or toddler to relieve constipation and is not possible with newborns.
Lactulose is the non-absorb-able sugar product that stimulates colon bacteria and produces water into the fecal mass by inflow. Is the common treatment for newborn, infant toddler and child constipation, suggested by pediatric gastroenterologists for constipation remedy. Diarrhea may be seen as side effect with Lactulose.
Glycerin suppositories are used as remedy for cor constipation when all efforts fails. The suppositories softens hard stool and favours easy defecation. Glycerin attracts small amount of water into stool and relieves constipation. Insertion of suppositories to rectum also stimulates defecation and helps in relieving constipation.