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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

very pale / white stools in children

(26 Posts)
arcticlemming Mon 15-Dec-08 17:28:12

A few years ago DD1 (then about 18 months) had a mild stomach upset with very pale, almost white loose stools. The stools remained extremely pale in colour for a couple of weeks afterwards. I mentioned it to my GP who said not to worry - she was just temporarily unable to absorb fat. However, a friend of mine's daughter had the same symptoms (again not really ill in herself) and her GP really went to town saying it was likely to indicate liver problems / hepatitis or malabsorbtion and sent off various samples (all of which were negative).
Does anyone have any experience of this? It's just DD2 now has a mild stomach upset (fine in herself) and her stools are very pale (though not actually white this time). Just wondering if I should be at all concerned?

bran Mon 15-Dec-08 17:33:27

I think it can be either, a temporary thing following illness or an indication of liver problems. It probably depends on other symptoms, your friend's GP may have seen other indicators or he/she may just have been over cautious.

When my DS had the same thing the GP wasn't too worried and said to give it a couple of weeks, and sure enough it got better by itself.

jafina Mon 15-Dec-08 19:50:10

my two boys went through a bout of having hummus coloured poos, with a strange smell. It was a tummy upset and went away after a week or two. I would only get concerned if they stay that way for more than a week or two.

LaSparklyTourEiffel Mon 15-Dec-08 20:21:50

My DS had this when he was about 10 months old, it was very odd. Doc said the same thing as yours, unable to absorb fat. Which didn't help me a whole I called the HV. (I've got a really good one) She said that it was because he had a tummy upset and the bacteria was kind of inbalanced, the best way to help it to sort itself out was to temporarily take out dairy produce, and feed him on fruit, veg, chicken and carbs. It took a few days and got better quite quickly. I then reintroduced dairy a bit at a time, bit like when I was weaning - one food at at time, and leaving about 36 hrs between each new food introduction. (I have a LOT of allergies so wanted to take it slowly with DS, bit PFB maybe but so far so good, so who knows!)

Hope your DD gets better soon grin

arcticlemming Mon 15-Dec-08 20:38:39

Thanks for this - that's reassuring. DD fine in herself (just troughed down a plate of home made chicken nuggets and veg and I await the outcome with interest!).

blowninonabreeze Mon 15-Dec-08 20:41:24

My DD1 gets this whenever she's ill - even if it isn't a GI upset - just a cold for example.

It rights itself after a few days.
Have never worried about it - although DH is a GP so poor DD is extremely neglected on the health front! (shoemakers children etc etc)

bramblebooks Mon 15-Dec-08 21:11:32

Hopefully it was a virus and all is now well. Just to add for all those others reading, it can be a sign of coeliac disease (but is only one of the indicators). My ds2 has diabetes type 1, which is closely linked to coeliac disease (which his dad has). ds2 had the 'poo thing' too before he was diagnosed, we thought it was coeliac but then the diabetes 'presented' and it was that.

notbusta Mon 15-Dec-08 21:29:28

Umm... DS almost always has pale (but never white), loose stools. He is 3 now but had "toddler diarreah" from when I stopped breast feeding him at 9 months, until he was maybe 18 months old. Had loads of investigations done then (it was also quite foul smelling at times) and was told he would grow out of it, which he did. As all of the other symptoms have gone I have not mentioned to the GP that it is still pale - should I? A bit concerned after reading this thread!

preetha Sat 11-Apr-09 20:02:58

my 6.5 year old son has this problem right now, He complaints of stomache ache nad passes pale white stools. He dosnt eat much for these couple of days. Lifer test was normal. Any advice?

ebbathome Sat 02-May-09 20:44:32

This could be a parasitic infection called Giardiasis common in childcare settings. About two weeks after infection the first signs will be sudden explosive foul smelling diarrhea. Other possible symptoms excessive gas, abdominal pain, pale faeces, tiredness, loss of appetite and vomiting. Some people have very mild symptoms to none at all. Can linger for many weeks/months and cause failure to thrive. Treatable with tinidazole, metronidazole, or nitazoxanide

picklesmama Mon 04-May-09 22:29:42

We all (but particularly DD) had this after rotavirus this winter. I read a particularly reassuring mumsnet post saying it was totally normal post-tummy bug and sure enough it went away too. With a mild tummy bug alongside I'd not worry at all - check it's gone in a week or so I'd say.

ekaterinaBG Thu 18-Feb-10 12:39:18


my daughter is 2 yrs old and she has been having pale stools very often for the last 2 months, all started after she had Amoxicillin for a week. We did 2 blood tests, 2 urine tests, all came back negative for liver desease, no infections, they keep telling me that as long as she is active, eats and gains weight there is a problem, but it's killing me seeing every 2-3 days weird stools, when before she used to have normal brown stool colour. What more can I do???

alypaly Fri 19-Feb-10 00:17:39

it could be something called steatorrhea

moosemama Fri 19-Feb-10 14:56:06

Ds1 has always had pale stools, varying from white through to clay coloured. We were also told he 'just had' toddler diarrhea as as far as we can remember he has never really had one normal nappy from weaning onwards. He had comprehensive bloods done twice by different doctors who both found nothing.

A dietician friend of ours advised us to try him without gluten for three months and see if he improved. We saw a definite improvement straight away and within a fortnight he had gone from spending an hour at at time on the toilet regularly, to dashing in and out of there in no time at all. When he saw a paediatrician for something unconnected in January, we mentioned this and he has booked ds1 in for a coeliac test in July. Unfortunately he has to go back onto gluten for at least three months before he can have the test.

I think in most cases if its short-term its generally considered to be caused by a virus or use of anti-biotics. Its only if its a long-term thing that GPs tend to be concerned.

ekaterinaBG Sat 20-Feb-10 21:51:58

Thanks for the reply, my daughter's stools are not loose though, she was on antibiotics again a week ago but this time only for 2 days because she got rash and I stopped it, I think she is allergic to Amoxicillin, she got constipated again and after some treatment with Lactoluse she has pale stoola now again:-(

Chellesgirl Wed 24-Feb-10 11:25:52

Can I add my 2 cents pls????
So... for those mums worried about short term pale/white stools in thier children this would be your explanation: pale stools are related to the diarrhoea and sickness that your dd/ds had/has.

So why are the stools pale?

Stools get their normal colour from bile pigments that come from the gall bladder and liver, and from the action of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut that break down food residues. If you have a gut infection (Gastro-enteritis, being the most common in young children), the balance of these bacteria can get disturbed, and until they re-colonise the bowel the stools can be paler than normal. Once a normal diet is resumed, a normal colour returns over a few days.

For those mums that may be worried about long term pale is most likely tha fact your child may have a blockage of bile pigments, and this makes the the stools become pale. This can happen in infections and inflammations are of the liver, and are this is usually accompanied by jaundice (looking yellow, especially the whites of the eyes) and very dark urine.

If this were the case with your dd/ds, the symptoms would be noticeable for a long period of time and your child still unwell. Clearly if you suspect this problem from my description you should take your dd/ds to the doctor straight away.

Hope I could clear a few things up

Chellesgirl Wed 24-Feb-10 11:41:39

oh and ignore the few random 'are's and stuff..i type too quick and dont think!

Gnomes1982 Mon 22-Mar-10 20:31:02

My daughter is 18mths, and had pnuemonia 2 weeks ago, followed by a sickness and diareah bug which lasted almost a week. Over the past 4 days she's had very pale pooh. Normal consistency, but very pale. I've tried giving colourful food, but this still isn't coming through. Should I panic?

ekaterinaBG Fri 09-Apr-10 12:41:04

Hi Chellesgirl,

my daughter had 2 blood tests to check liver function and 2 imaging scans done, all normal. So if there isn't any bile obstruction why does she keep having light coloured stools? Sometimes pale, sometimes with mucus, sometimes yellow.

consmum Fri 16-Apr-10 20:02:57

Hi, I've read the entire thread and am still unsure wether I should be worried about my 3 yr old or not. He has had very pale loose stools for the last 3 weeks. He isn't poorly in himself and isn't off his food but does at times say his tummy hurts. He doesn't have the runs as such and is still only goes once a day but it looks horrible and certainly doesn't smell so good!! After reading other posts I'm wondering if I should be taking him to GP?

mangomay Sun 31-Oct-10 21:07:55

Hi, mine is a terribly long story so I'll cut it short. My son started having at least 3-4 pale, loose stools a day at around 7 months which carried on up until june, he was 18 months old by then. I mentioned to the paediatrician that he loves pasta and toast, and that I thought it was linked to that. He agreed an elimination diet was a good idea so we did it. Since then he's been fine and only has the odd episode, usually after pinching a bit of toast from his sister. He was formally diagnosed with a gluten intolerance and we also found out he's allergic to egg. Speak to your GP about it and be firm, let them know it concerns you, it took me months to get anyone to take me seriously. An elimination diet should be done under GP supervision, or he may refer you to a paediatrician.

strawberrycake Mon 01-Nov-10 11:42:15

My 4 m/o has had pale runny poo since starting nutramigen. I know this sounds awful but all he does is odd and I've lost sight of 'normal' and ignored it.

natuski Sat 06-Nov-10 14:27:20

My son (11+mths) had a temp a couple of weeks ago and was off food for a few days (after a couple of settling in periods at nursery), he's been fine for the last weeks or so, but on Thurs didn't do any dirty nappies, then yest did 4, and 2 so far today, and they're really pale, cream coloured, a bit frothy, and absolutely foul smelling. They also seem to cause him some discomfort when passing. SHould I be worried? He seems fine in himself apart from this, isn't off his food. I have just moved him from formula to cows milk, could this be related?

LesAW Mon 26-Sep-11 19:41:32

Hi, just thought i'd mention that when I was small I had white stools as a baby, the doctor was unsure what it was and got a second opinion from a more experienced GP. The conclusion was Lactose Intolerance. I still have mild intolerance 31 years later. You may notice that the white stools occur when changing to cows milk. If you still wish to use cows milk as it tastes nicer than things like goats or soy try the lacto free range!

favoriteparent Fri 26-Sep-14 04:14:48

This gave me peace of mind, thanks. Daughter 18 months and has been just under two weeks with the pale stool. Has had some boogers for a bit but no major illness. I had also increased her milk intake along with food to help her put some weight on. So between the slight illness, extra milk and age range its seem it will pass as I cut back on some milk.

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