The most common cause of “constipation” in children is concernfrom caregivers that they should have a bowel movement every day—even though it is normal for children to pass stool as infrequently asonce or twice a week.
Anxiety from adults about toilet training can also be transmitted tochildren, which can lead to constipation. In this situation, most chil-dren develop normal bowel habits within two years.
Your Doctor Visit
What your doctor will ask you about the child: vomiting, excessiveurination, crying during bowel movement, change in appetite,abdominal swelling, blood in stool, soiling of underclothes, behavioral problems.
Your doctor will want to know how many bowel movements thechild has each week, how many the child is expected to have,and what kind of diet the child follows, including what kind offormula, if any, is used, how it is diluted, and how much thechild eats.
Your doctor will want to know if the child is taking any medications.
Your doctor will do a physical examination of the child, includ-ing the following: weight, pushing on the abdomen, rectal exam,thorough skin exam.
WHAT CAN CAUSE CONSTIPATION IN CHILDREN, AND WHAT IS TYPICAL FOR EACH CAUSE?
Cause: Rectal fissures
What is it: Tears in the tissue lining the rectum
Typcal Symptoms: Pain on bowel movement, blood in stool
Cause: Abnormal feeding (infant)
What is it: Infant formula is overly concentrated, or the infant does not get enough fluids
Typcal Symptoms: Weight loss, dehydration
Cause: Bowel obstruction
What is it: A block in the passage of stool through the intestine
Typcal Symptoms: Abdominal swelling, decreased volume of stool, severe constipation, vomiting, weight loss
What is it: Inability to control stools (after age 4 years)
Typcal Symptoms: Behavioral problems,soiled underclothes