Diarrhea In Babies

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One of the most common health problems faced by over a billion infants and children the world over is diarrhea or the appearance of frequent loose watery stools.

It is important to distinguish normal baby stools with the stools during diarrhea. This is because a normal stool is soft and runny. This may confuse parents into believing that their infant suffers from diarrhea. However babies who have yet to start with solids will often suffer from loose stools.

To distinguish it from normal stools you will need to observe the signs of infant diarrhea which includes an increase in the frequency of the stools. Every baby has its own pattern of bowel movement which can range from once or twice in a day to once in two days.

If you suddenly find your child having more bowel movements then it could indicate diarrhea. This will be accompanied by extremely watery stools, poor feeding, crying, congested or runny nose and fever. You may find your infant vomiting more than once in a short span of time suffering from dehydration signs such as dry mouth. In certain cases the diarrhea may be accompanied by blood or mucus in the stool.

Diarrhea in infants is caused by a range of factors which include infections caused by bacteria and viruses, food allergies, reaction to antibiotics and health problems like the irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Sometimes a change in a breastfeeding mother’s diet or teething can trigger off infant diarrhea.

Viral gastroenteritis also known as stomach flu caused by viruses such as rotavirus, astrovirus and adenovirus is a common cause of diarrhea in toddlers. Among the viruses that cause stomach flu, infection by rotavirus can cause acute diarrhea leading to hospitalization and even death due to complications caused by this virus. In fact an estimated ten percent of toddler diarrhea is caused by rotavirus alone.

In addition to this certain foods such as milk and dairy products can trigger off milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance which can lead to diarrhea. Pear and apple juice containing complex sugar such as sorbitol is another cause of food allergies in babies.

If your infant is suffering from watery stools, has blood or mucus in stools or has high fever than it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately. The most common complication of diarrhea in infants is dehydration.

The common signs of dehydration in infants include sunken abdomen and eyes, dry mouth and tongue, irritability, lack of tears when crying and no urination for more than three hours. The electrolyte and fluid loss in the body has to be treated by administering oral rehydration solutions. In addition to this give the infant plenty of fluids such as grape juice and water.

If the baby has started solids then try feeding him or her easily digestible foods like mashed potatoes, mashed bananas, applesauce and oatmeal. Remember that the food should be bland and it is not necessary to add salt, sugar or oil to the foods. It is advisable to consult a doctor before you use any medicines or make any changes in the diet of an infant suffering from diarrhea.

photo credit- mychildhealth.net