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In the Diaper
Blood can appear in the diapers of newborns for many of these benign reasons:
- Because eating is a new process, the intestine can become slightly irritated, resulting in a few temporary streaks of blood. Persistent blood in the stools of formula-fed babies can be a sign of intolerance.
- Some parents (but not you, right?) follow recommendations to stimulate a baby’s rectum with a thermometer to help relieve the baby of stools. Besides interfering with the natural defecation process, this can obviously irritate the area and cause bleeding. I suggest you stay away from this barbaric practice.
- For Lucy, blood in the diapers may be the result of a natural but surprising hormonal process. She could have assumed some of your maternal hormonal profile and then shed those hormones, resulting in a quasi-menstrual process that can produce a tiny amount of blood in the first couple of weeks.
- Finally, not everything in a diaper that looks like blood is blood. The normal precipitation of the urine into crystals can appear as red-tinged stains, especially in newborns. This is not a reliable sign of dehydration, no matter what you may read in some books.
- Blood in Lucy’s stools can also result, to a lesser degree, from causes that usually affect toddlers. Described below, these include stomach bugs and a blockage of the intestine called intussusception.
You may see blood in vomit or spit-up when a baby has been ingesting milk through a cracked nipple, even if the fissure is not obvious. There is no reason to be alarmed or to discontinue nursing. When the fissure heals, the blood will disappear.
- For Jimmy, blood in the stool is usually the result of a fissure caused by constipation. If the stools are hard and his pain is intense, you can give him a glycerin suppository, repeating it daily until the fissure heals. It’s more important, however, that you resolve the constipation by limiting the starch in his diet [See: Constipation].
- If blood in the stool is accompanied by diarrhea, this may point to a stomach bug [See: Stomach Bug].
- In rare cases, blood in the stool can be caused by a mechanical blockage called intussusception, which also causes intense belly pain and vomiting. It requires immediate medical attention.
The effort of vomiting can provoke a small amount of bleeding from a little tear in the upper digestive system. It usually doesn’t recur; there’s no cause for concern. For a large amount of blood, seek medical attention.
If blood leaks from the ears, mixed with pus, it usually indicates a perforated eardrum caused by an ear infection, which you either already know about or will discover thanks to this unfortunate bleeding [See: Ear Infections].
This is your average benign nosebleed, usually caused either by nose picking or by warm weather and dry air [See: Nosebleeds].