Background: The bowel habits of children less than two years are quite varied and there is no definite hard data on stool pattern of Indian children particularly less than two years of age.
Aim: To define the normal frequency and consistency of stools of healthy Indian children between 0-24 months of age.
Methods: Parents of children aged up to 24 months were asked on a three day recall basis about their child’s usual bowel habits and dietary history. Bowel habit was recorded in terms of number of stools the child passes per day, stool consistency, the age at which night bowel movements stopped, and the age of commencement of regular bowel movements. Feeding type was recorded as exclusive breast feed, mixed milk feeds or solid feeds. The bowel habits were correlated with the age and type of feeding.
Result: Children in their first six months of life had stools which were predominantly “pasty” and “runny like cream” with high and variable frequency. Beyond six months consistency was “solid” and “pasty” stools. On analyzing the combined effect of the type of milk feed and age on bowel frequency and consistency, children beyond one month of age either on exclusive breast feed or on mixed milk feed had similar frequency and consistency of stools. By one year of age more than 90% children attained regular stool pattern with no night time bowel movements.
Conclusion: This is the first report from India which describes the stool pattern of normal healthy children less than two years of age.