Children's Constipation

Constipation can be a serious medical issue. Research shows that children with chronic constipation have a worse quality of life than those with more serious medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. The statistics are staggering. Constipation affects 25–30% of young children and toddlers which also increases the risk of urinary tract infections. The Journal of Pediatric Health Care states that constipation accounts for nearly 8% of all pediatric outpatient visits, as well as more than 25% of all referrals to gastroenterology specialists. In 2015 alone, functional constipation had a worldwide prevalence of 15–45%, with approximately 40–75% of chronic constipation in children resulting in fecal impaction.

Since 2015, researchers have found that the number of constipated children seen by primary care doctors has nearly doubled. Caring for children with constipation is also expensive, with associated healthcare costs reaching an estimated $5.2 billion a year.

The majority of children and toddlers (about 95% of the reported cases) have functional constipation meaning it's not due to "secondary" causes like medications or medical conditions. This type mainly affects children between the ages of 2 and 4 when toilet training starts. (source ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

DocuSol® Kids - Fast, predictable results typically in 2-15 minutes.

Different Types of Constipation Medication for Kids

Constipation medications are broken down into the following general categories:

  • Stool Softeners: Stool softeners for kids are oral or rectal, and work by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a standard bowel stimulus and softening the stool. Because stool softeners increase the amount of moisture in the stool, it allows for a more comfortable bowel movement that should not require straining. Oral stool softeners can take 12 – 72 hours to be effective.
  • DocuSol® Kids (rectal) works within 2 – 15 minutes.
  • Hyperosmotic Laxatives: These laxatives increase the amount of water in the intestines to allow easier passage of stool and can be taken orally or rectally.
  • Stimulant Laxatives: These can be administered orally or rectally, and work by stimulating the rectal muscles, activating them to push stool out.
  • Lubricant Laxatives: These are taken orally or rectally, and work by coating stool in a lubricant, making it slippery and more comfortable to pass.

Ingredients Found in Stool Softeners & Laxatives

  • Stool Softeners: docusate sodium and docusate calcium
  • Lubricant Laxative: mineral oil
  • Stimulant Laxative: bisacodyl and sennosides
  • Osmotic Laxative: polyethylene glycol and glycerin

We all know how uncomfortable and painful it can be, so every parent wants to help relieve their child's constipation as quickly and safely as possible. After trying natural remedies, a parent may decide that medication or medical treatment is needed to alleviate constipation in kids.

With so many choices, how does a parent decide which constipation relief is best for their child? As with all health conditions, it's always important to consult a doctor or pediatrician to get a more informed summary of your child's particular situation. However, we can provide a useful overview of medications and natural remedies, which we hope will help you get a better sense of which are safest and most effective for your kids.

Foods to Help with Constipation in Children

To help relieve children's constipation, an adequate daily intake of fiber is essential. In addition to relieving constipation in kids, dietary fiber is also part of overall health and well-being and helps prevent future bowel irregularity. Daily fiber intake is different for each child, depending on age, gender, and other factors, so it's always a good idea to consult with a pediatrician to determine what is best for your child.

Here are some foods that are high in fiber:

  • Fruits: Most kids love fruit, and many fruits are a great source of fiber! Berries, oranges, pears, and apples (leave the skin on!) are great examples of fruits that are high in fiber.
  • Whole Grains: Some simple food replacements can help ensure your child is getting enough fiber. For instance, substitute whole wheat bread for white bread. Also consider serving high-fiber oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, and cereals that are high in bran.
  • Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas are high in fiber. Many kids don't like these foods plain, so work them into recipes your kid loves instead!
  • Vegetables: Yes, it can be challenging to get children to eat their veggies! Broccoli, green beans, peas, and carrots are fiber-rich foods that many kids love to eat!
  • Nuts: Providing your child doesn't have a nut allergy, pecans, almonds, and peanuts are healthy snacks that are high in fiber.

There are also foods to avoid to help relieve children's constipation (or to help prevent constipation), including snack foods that are high in unhealthy fats, sodium and sugar, including:

  • Chips
  • Fast foods
  • Red meat (chicken, pork and fish are better protein options)
  • Prepared or processed foods
  • Dairy products that are high in sugar
  • Traditional “binder” foods such as rice and bananas
foods to avoid to minimize the risk of children's constipation

Frequently Asked Questions: Bowel Care for Children

Bowel patterns vary from child to child, just as they do in adults. What's normal for your child may be different from what's normal for another child. Most children have bowel movements one to two times per day. Other children may go two to three days or longer before passing a normal stool. For instance, if your child is healthy and has normal stools without discomfort or pain, ­having a bowel movement every three days may be your child’s normal bowel pattern.

Children with constipation may have stools that are hard, dry, and difficult or painful to pass. These stools may occur daily or be less frequent. Although constipation can cause discomfort and pain, it's usually temporary and can be treated.

Constipation is a common problem in children. It's one of the main reasons children are referred to a specialist, called a pediatric gastroenterologist.

What to Do If My Child or Toddler is Constipated

Before making any decisions about giving your child over-the-counter constipation medication, it's essential to talk to a pediatrician to determine what treatment is best for your toddler or child. Try at-home remedies first, as discussed in this article, and keep track of what works and what doesn't in a daily food and beverage diary. This way, if you do need to consult with a pediatrician, you are more informed about your child's bowel movements and patterns.

Try to stick to a bowel routine as much as possible to encourage bowel regularity and get your child accustomed to a regular bowel routine. First thing in the morning and about 30 mins after a meal are good times to encourage your child to use the bathroom.

DocuSol® Kids Can Help!

Docusol Kid's Enema box

Changes in Diet

DocuSol® Kids is a first-of-its-kind, mini enema with a non-irritating formula that functions as a stool-softening, hyperosmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a normal bowel movement. This unique formulation provides children ages 2–12 fast, predictable relief of constipation within 2 – 15 minutes.

DocuSol® Kids was designed for easy use at home. The DocuSol® Kids tube is designed to offer a minimally invasive, soft, and flexible tip, avoiding any scratching or irritation to the skin. Just a 5-milliliter tube delivering 100mg of docusate sodium, the medication provides fast relief in just a few, easy steps!

Learn more about DocuSol® Kids on our website, including:

Cartoon drawing of boy doing a cartwheel

Learn more about DocuSol® Kids on our website, including:

Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website are for reference purposes only. Always consult your physician for healthcare questions. Alliance Labs and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care or the accuracy of the processes.presented. All rights reserved. Copyright 2019.

Sources:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347614008798

https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/2005/07000/Chronic_Childhood_Constipation_Is_Associated_with.12.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4356179/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4574579/