Constipation is common among children up to 2 years old, according to the results of a recent study. However, dietary changes and laxatives usually resolve the problem.
Dr. Vera Loening-Baucke, of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, measured the rate of constipation in 4157 children 2 years of age or younger. In addition, she documented the effects of dietary changes, corn syrup, or laxatives. The results are published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Loening-Baucke identified 185 children with constipation. Up to 1 year of age, 2.9 percent of the children had constipation, but this increased to 10.1 percent in the second year. Boys and girls were affected equally.
“Constipation in early life is a special situation,” the investigator points out, because there is a possibility that it’s caused by a serious congenital disorder. However, in this study underlying disease caused constipation in only three of the children.
“Dietary changes, corn syrup, or both were the initial treatment in 116 children and for 80 percent of children with less than 2 weeks of symptoms,” the researcher writes. “One hundred eight children returned for follow-up, and constipation resolved in 27 children.”
A total of 30 children were treated with milk of magnesia and 70 were given polyethylene glycol 3350 (MiraLax). Of these 100 children, 44 had undergone prior treatment with dietary changes, corn syrup or both, which had failed.
A total of 93 children underwent follow-up examinations, which showed that treatment resolved constipation in 92 percent of these kids.
Loening-Baucke points out that constipation in young kids is usually a learned behavior, after they have experienced a bout of painful defecation. She advises parents to be on the lookout for such episodes, and to “intervene quickly to lessen the risk that their child will develop chronic constipation or fecal soiling.”