What Causes Constipation in Children?

Young children who suffer from constipation may display unusual posturing, complain of abdominal pain, or have urinary incontinence that results in daytime or nighttime wetting. If constipation leads to fecal impaction, parents might observe soiled underwear, which may be mistaken for diarrhea. If your child’s symptoms are persistent or severe, consider bringing him or her to a children’s hospital. The caring staff at Sunrise Children’s Hospital of Las Vegas can help your little one feel well again.

Low-Fiber Diet

A low-fiber diet is one of the most common causes of constipation in children , particularly those who are selective eaters. Some good sources of fiber include cooked kidney beans, bran cereal or muffins, apples with the skin, stewed prunes, squash, broccoli, and greens such as spinach. It’s also important to make sure children drink enough liquids to allow the fiber to work better. Water, clear soups, and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices are good options.

Bowel Movement Delay

Another common cause of constipation in children is the delay of bowel movements. Children may purposely try to hold in stool, which causes the stool to become hard and dry. Children may sometimes behave in this way if they are upset about potty training, unsure of using public bathrooms, or simply reluctant to stop playing when a bathroom break is necessary.

Functional GI Disorders

Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders occur when the muscles of the GI tract move stool too slowly. This does not inflict damage on the GI tract; however, it may result in constipation, known as functional constipation. Functional constipation is not uncommon during the transition from breast milk to formula, and from formula or breast milk to solid foods. It may also occur during potty training and when children begin going to school if they are reluctant to use the school bathrooms.

The clinical dietitians at Sunrise Children’s Hospital of Las Vegas can help your family learn about healthy eating habits that can reduce the risk of constipation. You’ll find a comprehensive range of pediatric healthcare services at our hospital, including care of high-risk pregnancy, children’s emergency care, and surgical services. If you would like to speak with a registered nurse at our children’s hospital, call (702) 233-5437.

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