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Causes Of Chronic Constipation In Children

Tips for Parent By Shreya Lall , Onlymyhealth editorial team / Nov 22, 2011
Causes Of Chronic Constipation In Children

Causes Of Chronic Constipation In Children - Diet, bowel evaucation habit and psychological factors are some of the causes of chronic constipation in children.

Infants and children with constipation are treated differently compared to adults because the patterns of bowel movements keep changing in humans from the time of birth until the age of 3 or 4. Most children with constipation do not have any particular disease or disorder to vouch for constipation.  Seldom do the infants and children experience constipation due to an already exciting disease or disorder.

Constipation happens if a child does not drink enough water, milk and other fluids or if a child does not eat a healthy diet with enough fibre. Fibre is present in foods such as grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables. If a child eats a diet enriched in fat and refined sugar, he or she is prone to a massive decrease in fibre in the body, which can therefore result in constipation. 

Constipation can also occur when a baby is switched from breast milk or baby formula to whole cow’s milk or when a baby is switched from food to solid food. Sometimes, constipation happens when a child has been sick or has taken certain medicines. One should not be concerned if a child is constipated for a short span of time. Constipation is common in children and usually goes away on its own.

Young children who have chronic constipation often overlook the urge to defecate. A child may not want to hinder play or perhaps be afraid or shy to ask a teacher or use a public restroom. When a child avoids defecating, stool accumulates in the lower bowel, which becomes larger and harder. At such a stage, defecating can be painful, thereby, making the children want to avoid having  to defecate even more.

Causes may be catagorised into:


1. Psychological Factors

  • A child may react to early or forced toiled training by stopping the stool.
  • Anxiety and depression slows down bowel motility leading to constipation. Over-demanding parents and emotional problems with peers may also be a cause.
  • A child may intentionally hold the stool back as a way of protest or to express the  need for attention.
  • Children, mainly adolescent girls, with anorexia nervosa or bulimia are known to be constipated.
  • In children who are sexually abused, a paradoxical action of the anal sphincter may happen; In such a scenario, when a child tries to push the stool out, the anus closes.
  • Anismus (also called dyschezia) is an inability to relax external anal sphincter after the relaxation of pelvic floor muscles. This might be provoked by “laboratory environment” where an analysis is made.


2. Bowel Evacuation Habit

Several times, children tend to neglect the urge to defecate because they do not want to leave a game or are embarrassed to use the toilet outside of home. They may not take due time to have a bowel movement in the morning and then hold it back during the day. This way the colon muscles slowly stop to respond to the presence of stool in the rectum and lose their tone.


3. Diet


A diet consisting of pizza, burger, hamburger, eggs, chocolates, sweets, green bananas etc can cause constipation.

It is necessary to take note of these causes of chronic constipation in children in order to keep the disease at bay.


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