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The variation in stool patterns from 1 to 42 months: a population-based observational study
  1. Colin D Steer (colin.steer{at}
  1. University of Bristol, United Kingdom
    1. Alan M Emond (alan.emond{at}
    1. University of Bristol, United Kingdom
      1. Jean Golding (jean.golding{at}
      1. University of Bristol, United Kingdom
        1. Bhupinder Sandhu (bhupinder.sandhu{at}
        1. Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children, United Kingdom


          Objective: To document normal stool patterns of young children.

          Design: Prospective population based longitudinal study.

          Setting: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

          Subjects: 12,984 children, whose parents completed questionnaires at 4 weeks, 6, 18, 30 and 42 months on their frequency of bowel movements and consistency and colour of their stools.

          Results: Stool frequency declined from a mean of 3.0 times/day [3rd centile 0.6, 97th centile 5.9] at 4w to 1.3 times/day [0.6, 2.7] at 42m.

          Stool consistency was soft in most babies with nearly half passing liquid or curdy stool at 4w. 14% of babies usually passed a hard stool at 4w, rising to 30% at 42m.

          Stool colour was commonly yellow at 4w, and changed to brown by 6m. Black stools were extremely unusual at all ages.

          Conclusions: These data on the changes with age in stool patterns of young children will be useful for clinicians.

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