Feature Article

Constipation in infants and children

Andrew Stewart Day



Many events may precipitate functional constipation in children. Informed parental involvement is essential for its successful management.

Key Points

  • One of the commonest gastrointestinal complaints in childhood, constipation affects almost one in six children.
  • Most children presenting with constipation have functional or reservoir constipation related to withholding-behaviour, and not a pathological disorder.
  • Careful history and examination should detect any underlying pathological causes.
  • Management of functional constipation in children involves education, disimpaction, maintenance and ongoing review.
  • Educating the parent about constipation encourages long term compliance. Education messages should be repeated at every visit.