Evaluation of Hematochezia in a Two-Day-Old Infant

Amy M O'Neil, James L Homme
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2016, 50 (1): 41-3

BACKGROUND: Hematochezia in the pediatric population, particularly infants, has a wide differential diagnosis ranging from benign to life-threatening causes. Obtaining a thorough history and identifying risk factors for more ominous disease is vital during the emergency department (ED) evaluation.

CASE REPORT: The patient is a 2-day-old female who presented to the ED with 8-10 episodes of bright red blood in her stools. She was otherwise asymptomatic, with an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery. Her history was significant for a sibling who recently tested positive for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in his stool and a family history of lactose intolerance. She was exclusively formula fed. An abdominal plain film was obtained and was normal. Milk protein enterocolitis was suspected and she was transitioned to hydrolyzed formula with resolution of her symptoms. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: As emergency physicians, we need to be aware of the life-threatening conditions that are associated with hematochezia, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, and act quickly. However, many patients will have benign conditions, and recognizing the key historical and diagnostic pieces of the infant's presentation will prevent unnecessary evaluations and consultations.

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