Constipation in Children


Constipation in children is a common problem. A child's diet should be asked about and a rectal examination done. Celiac disease can cause constipation and/or diarrhea.

Constipation is a very common problem in children and one that is often left untreated by a child's doctor. If a pediatrician or family doctor doesn't sit down and talk with the child and his parent or parents and always take a diet history, the problem can go untreated for a long time.

In the June 11, 2013 New York Times, there was an article about constipation by Dr. Perri Klass. She commented about the connection of too early potty training  by strict parents, poor diet, and the problem about using dirty school bathrooms. These are all important points, but an important problem not discussed was that constipation can be the presenting problem in celiac disease. Most doctors connect diarrhea or loose bowel movements with celiac disease. However, a good friend who is a pediatrician and has celiac disease told me of this connection many years ago.

Abdominal pain can be a  presenting symptom of constipation and one that is commonly seen in the ER. I remember seeing a doctor's child on a Saturday afternoon in my office, who was complaining of abdominal pain. His parents were afraid he had an appendicitis. In feeling his abdomen and asking when he had his last bowel movement, I suspected  the child was constipated. A rectal examination confirmed this and also there was not the abdominal pain you find with an appendicitis. The parents took him home and after a pediatric Fleet enema, the little boy was fine. He was a big milk drinker and ate apples and bananas, as his only fruits. These can all be constipating. Also, if a child has large hard stools, a painful rectal fissure can be a problem and may keep a child from even trying to go to the bathroom.

Image copyright: Pezibear/pixabay/CC0

Article last time updated on 12.06.2017.

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