A consultant paediatrician, Dr Fatunke Tosin, has warned mothers to stop giving enemas to their children whenever they have difficulties in defecating without the consent of a medical doctor.
Tosin, of the Department of Paediatrics, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Keffi, in Nasarawa state gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday.
According to AboutkidsHealth, an online health education website for children, it said enema is a process to stimulate the bowels with fluids to empty them.
The aim is to soften the stools inside babies’ bowels by flushing fluids into them through the rectum with the help of a tube.
Once the fluids enter the babies’ bowels, they soften all the hard stools there and turn everything inside into mush.
Such a baby would be able to excrete the paste through the anus, without causing him or her them pain or harm.
Tosin said: “I will not encourage mothers to choose enema as an option that will ensure children are able to emit stool without any stress. If you must give enema, it should be recommended by a doctor. However, one better preventive method of constipation in children is having a proper diet that is rich in fibre. Making a child eats fibre foods like leafy vegetables, water, as well as chewing and swallowing the fibre parts of oranges, carrots, cabbage, peas, among others will help stimulate digestion. The fibre contents in such foods will also help to soften the child’s stool and the child will be able to defecate easily.In a situation you have tried this and it does not work, take the child to see a doctor,’’ Tosin said.
He said that constantly giving a child enema could lead to `anal fissure’ that is, a tear in the anal canal especially if such a mother did not know how; saying this could worsen defecation.
Tosin said doctors would always use enema for special purpose like bowel cleansing and to relieve constipation before a medical examination or procedure for their patients.
The pediatrician also condemned the act whereby a mother inserts her finger into the child’s anus to pull out stool.
He warned mothers who had no knowledge of the appropriate finger to insert, never to do so in order not to cause anal fissures.
According to him, anal fissures are the most common causes of bloody stool in children.
He advised mothers to maintain good hygiene by ensuring that their toilets were kept clean always.
He explained that some children hold their poop because the toilets they wanted to use were not clean; and as they hold on until the stool becomes hard to defecate.
He explained that enema could help in resetting the bowel function to normalcy but should not be given without a doctor’s recommendation.