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Management of children with constipation in the community

Constipation is a common childhood problem but involves a wide range of factors, write Siba Prosad Paul, Candy Lam and Cathy Dewdney

Constipation is a common problem in children and affects around 5-30 per cent of the child population, depending on the criteria used for diagnosis; accounting for 10 per cent of the referrals to the paediatric services. 1, 2

Constipation is often a painful, debilitating condition where the whole family may need support. Physical symptoms of constipation may be just one of the problems.


True morbidity may go under-reported as embarrassment or fear of receiving negative responses from health professionals or failure to realise that symptoms are a result of constipation, can prevent parents or older children seeking advice.

Some parents and older children may keep chasing serious pathologies leading to unnecessary investigations.1,3 Studies have shown around one third of children presenting with constipation suffer from chronic symptoms and one third of these children continue to have significant problems with constipation into adulthood.3

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