What Are the Causes for Pale Stools in Children?

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There can be various causes for pale stools in children, including diet, medications, biliary problems and hepatitis. Normal stool colors are typically different shades of brown. Pale stool colors that range from white to clay are unusual or abnormal.

A child on a milk-only diet may have pale stools. Likewise, children who take a medication such as an antacid or those who get a barium enema may also present symptoms of light-colored stools. These causes are not indicative of a serious medical problem according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. For these causes, the treatment for pale stool color is to remove the specific trigger, such as the particular food or medication.

Very pale or gray stools may be a worrisome sign that the biliary system is not functioning properly. The biliary system includes the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. For example, a person with a liver infection due to a bile duct obstruction or decreased bile secretion can have clay-colored stools, according to MedlinePlus. Treatment for bile duct obstruction will depend on the specific cause.

Hepatitis can also cause a child to have light or white colored stools, according to Kid Health. Hepatitis has other accompanying symptoms, such as jaundice, nausea and fever. If a parent notices any of these symptoms, it is important they see a doctor for advice.