White stool in children

Updated February 21, 2017

Pale or white bowel movements by children can be an unusual sight and an immediate cause for alarm, and in many cases that concern is valid. The causes of white stool in kids are many, and figuring out if your child has a serious problem should be a priority. Faeces can appear in many different colours and still be normal and there is no need for panic. Listed below are some possible causes of white stool.

Bile Duct Cysts

Sometimes cysts form on the bile ducts, according to Although this is rare, the presence of these cysts can block the flow of bile from the liver into the gallbladder and keep the digestive fluid from reaching its destination. Bile is the substance in the body that gives faeces its typical brown or green colour and could explain the white stool.

Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection of the liver. Hepatitis A is a disease caused by a virus that inflames the liver and causes it to function improperly, according to the Mayo Clinic. By not functioning properly, the liver may fail to produce the amount of bile needed for proper digestion and therefore may cause pale or white stool. In most cases Hepatitis A will be mild and require little if any treatment, but it is best to see a physician to find out if your child has this infection and not a more serious case of hepatitis such as type B or C which can lead to cirrhosis and be fatal.


Malabsorption happens when the body is unable to properly digest nutrients. This may be the result of dozens of different conditions, according to Pale or white stool may result as an indicator that the child is not being supplied with all the proper vitamins and minerals.

Biliary Atresia

Medical website Medline Plus defines Biliary Atresia as a blockage of the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder, which produces an identical reaction as the aforementioned cysts. This condition is congenital, meaning it is present from birth. This blockage, if not treated, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which is deadly.


While these are potential answers to why white stool occurs, there are dozens of other possibilities ranging from the very serious to the very minor. Consult your paediatrician and, if possible, take a diaper with a stool sample for the doctor to see since what may just be a change in bowel activity for your child may be normal in the big picture.

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About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.