Lazy bowel syndrome is a disease that can affect newborns, babies and toddlers. It is a condition that makes it hard for them to empty their bowels. In most cases, the pooping trouble can start right after birth, but in a milder case, you may not see the symptoms until months or even years later.
This disease is clinically referred to as – Hirschsprung – pronounced as HERSH-Sproong, and in serious cases, its treatment will require surgery. The good news however is that even if the condition is severe, after surgery, the baby is usually fully cured and can pass their bowels normally.
Lazy bowel causes the baby to have diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. It can also lead to some serious complications in the colon such as toxic megacolon or enterocolitis. These can be life threatening, and it is important to diagnose this disease the earliest time possible.
How can you Identify if your Baby has a Lazy Bowel?
The signs and symptoms of this disease are varied among, and this depends on how severe the cases are. Children who are suffering from very severe cases may exhibit the following symptoms.
- An inability to pass stool after the first or second day of their life.
- May have a bloated and swollen belly as a result of gas.
- May have diarrhea
- You baby may vomit, and this should either be brown or green in color.
If your newborn baby doesn’t excrete in the first 48 hours of being born, the doctors will likely discover they have this disease. This type of red flagging can help alleviate problems early. In less severe cases, you may discover the following.
- Your baby may have a swollen belly.
- They may be constipated.
- They may be vomiting.
- They may have some trouble gaining weight.
- They may have gas.
What Causes this Disease?
This is a bowel problem and brings in the difficulties of passing stool from the child’s intestines because they are missing some nerve cells in the lower part of their colon. This can be caused by a birth defect.
Under normal conditions, the large intestines should move all of the digested material to the gut through a series of contractions which are known as peristalsis. This is controlled by the nerves found in the layers of the intestines found in the muscle tissues.
Children who suffer from the lazy bowel disease usually are missing these nerves on the path of their colons and as such this will prevent them from relaxing. That then causes them to have a blockage in the journey of the digested food, and eventually causes them to have trouble excreting.
If the baby’s entire large intestines are affected, this is known as the long-segment disease. When it affects a smaller portion of the colon that is found close to the rectum, it is known as the short-segment disease.
It is however closer for it to happen closer to the rectum than the large intestines. This is because while in the womb, the baby’s cells may have developed from the start of the large intestines and stopped near the rectum, then they stopped there.
Treatment of Hirschsprung Disease
The most effective form of treatment for Hirschsprung is surgery when it comes to severe cases. This is usually done in one or two steps, depending on the severity of the condition. If your baby is very sick during surgery, they may need to have two steps done.
The first surgery will involve the doctor removing the unhealthy part of the colon, in a procedure known as Ostomy. The doctor will create a small hole known as a stoma in the baby’s abdomen and then attach the healthy part of the colon to this hole.
The baby’s stool will then pass through the hole to a bag that is connected to it. This needs to be emptied a few times a day, and it enables the lower colon to heal before the second surgery.
The second surgery involves closing the hole and attaching the normal section of the colon to the rectum.
As a parent, this may sound a little scary, and the thought of having your newborn baby going through surgery is almost terrifying. But with modern medicine, this can be a very simple procedure. And your newborn will heal quickly.
If you have any suspicions about your baby’s bowel movements, contact a doctor immediately.