If you’re changing your baby’s diaper and you notice small, dark, pebble-sized stool, this is a sign of constipation –and could be a sign of pain. After all, it’s painful to be constipated and to not be able to pass stool normally. Constipation could appear as dehydration, inadequate fiber, or as excessive dairy product intake, but the truth isn’t that the baby isn’t getting the proper foods, but that the baby isn’t processing the proper foods appropriately.
Cystic fibrosis is a medical condition in which the lungs, digestive system are primarily affected, although other parts, such as the liver, may be affected as well.
An infant with cystic fibrosis often exhibits severe constipation and trouble with digestion, thus producing the foul-smelling, greasy stool. However, severe constipation alone usually does not indicate cystic fibrosis. Other symptoms are usually present as well, including:
- A salt-like taste to the skin
- Difficulties with breathing
- Poor growth
- Poor weight gain
- Chronic coughing
Children with cerebral palsy also often experience constipation. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the coordination and communication between muscles and the brain. However, as with cystic fibrosis, constipation alone is not an indication of cerebral palsy. A series of other signs and symptoms are usually present.
As the digestive tract is comprised of both organs and muscles, children with cerebral palsy occasionally experience digestive problems as the muscles in that system also receive incorrect signals from the brain. One of these incorrect signals could manifest in the form of constipation.
Other symptoms of cerebral palsy include involuntary muscle movements, spasticity, muscle rigidity, drooling, inconsistency in muscle tone, and seizures. For more detailed information, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy Symptoms.
Sometimes constipation can be a side effect of medication regulating the symptoms of cerebral palsy. These medications often address the hydration of the child as children with cerebral palsy often have trouble drooling and with urinary incontinence.
Intolerance and Genetics
Not all forms of severe constipation are directly related to severe medical disorder. In many instances, an infant may simple have an intolerance to certain products or sugars, such as lactose in milk. Other times, constipation may be genetically-related. According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation can surface if there is a family history, which can due to shared environmental factors as well.
Constipation could be a sign of something else that is wrong. Let your doctor know when your child is constipated and trust your physician if he or she suggests a number of blood tests that may prove or rule out one or both of these birth injuries. If you find your child has one of these birth injuries, you can also consult your physician about medication that can relieve this particular symptom and make your child a little more comfortable.