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"Should I schedule a pediatric endocrinology consultation if my child is having strange stools?"
My child has had very strange bowel movements of late. Who should I take him to see?
It can be concerning as a parent when your child has changing or abnormal stools. Children have a wide range of what is considered normal stooling, including different colors, consistencies, and frequency. Your child's pediatrician can help evaluate these stools and determine if further workup should be pursued. The field of pediatric endocrinology focuses on childhood hormonal imbalances, diabetes mellitus, growth, and sexual development. A pediatric gastroenterologist, on the other hand, deals with stool and intestinal abnormalities, and may be the better choice if your child's stools are truly abnormal. However, before obtaining a specialist consultation, your primary care physician should evaluate your child's condition. If for example, his stool has changed slightly in color or frequency, this could be normal or related to a change in his diet. If your child is having blood in his stool or white or black stools, your pediatrician will likely refer you to a pediatric gastroenterologist for further evaluation. There are endocrinologic causes for a change in stool frequency such as a thyroid abnormality. If there is concern for hypo- or hyper-thyroidism, your pediatrician can start an initial workup, and if an abnormality is found, can then refer you and your child to a pediatric endocrinologist. So while changes in stooling can look worrisome, they are often within the range of normal. You should follow up with your child's pediatrician to discuss the specific symptoms, evaluate a stool sample if possible, and consider if a specialist consultation is recommended.
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