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Stool Analysis: About Your Child's Test

What is it?

A stool analysis is a series of tests done on a sample of stool (feces). It can find problems with the digestive tract. These health problems can include infection, poor nutrient absorption, or cancer.

Why is the test done?

In children, stool analysis is done to find diseases of the digestive tract. It's also done to find out what may be causing symptoms like diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, and belly pain with fever.

How do you prepare for the test?

Your child may need to avoid certain medicines for 1 to 2 weeks before the test. Your child may also need to avoid certain foods for a few days before the test. Talk with your doctor about which medicines and foods to avoid.

How is the test done?

Stool samples can be collected at home. Or they can be collected in your doctor's office, a health clinic, or the hospital. If you collect your child's samples at home, you will get kits to use. Each kit has applicator sticks, a collection container, and two sterile containers.

You may need to collect more than one sample over 1 to 3 days. Follow the same procedure each day.

  • Have your child urinate before you collect his or her stool so your child doesn't get any urine in the stool sample.
  • Put on gloves.
  • Have your child pass stool into the collection container. If your child still wears diapers, you can collect a sample from the diaper (if the stool is not contaminated with urine).
  • Use the applicator stick to take a sample of the stool, and place it in the sterile container.
  • Place the lid on the container. Label it with your child's name, the doctor's name, and the date the stool was collected.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes each time you take a sample.

What happens after the test?

  • If your child isn't already at home, they will probably be able to go home right away. Stool analysis results usually take up to 2 weeks.
  • Your child can go back to their usual activities right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.