According to research recently released by Nationwide Children's Hospital, the burden of illness in children suffering from constipation and the costs associated with the condition, are roughly the same magnitude as those for asthma and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

According to research recently released by Nationwide Children's Hospital, the burden of illness in children suffering from constipation and the costs associated with the condition, are roughly the same magnitude as those for asthma and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.


The results are from a nationally representative survey of children under 18 years of age who were diagnosed with constipation or prescribed a laxative over two consecutive years. It showed that children with constipation used more health services than children without the condition, amounting to an additional cost of $3.9 billion each year.


"Despite being considered by many a relatively benign condition, childhood constipation has been shown to be associated with a significantly decreased quality of life," said the study's author, Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital.


Talking about bowel movements isn't always a comfortable topic, but medical professionals insist it's a conversation that parents need to have with their children. It's especially important that parents talk to their kids when they become responsible for their own bathroom habits.

For instance, toddlers like the sense of independence and often try to use the restroom by themselves. When they become constipated, they often can't verbalize what's wrong and may just tell their parents that their belly hurts. The best way to determine if there is a problem is to ask your child. If you aren't uncom-fortable talking about it, they won't be either.


Kids who have one painful bowel movement often become afraid of it happening again, so many will hold the bowel movements in.


Body language can tell a lot, too. If your child is stiffening up, crossing her legs or hiding, she may be holding in a bowel movement.


If your child has blood in his stool or hasn't had a bowel movement in more than three days, it's time to call your child's doctor. You also should call if your child has decreased appetite, abdominal pain or distention, leakage or stool withholding.

Alleviating constipation pains

Add more fiber to kids' diets by incorporating extra fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans to meals. For infants younger than three months, consult your pediatrician for treatment options but in general, it's safe to give little ones 1/2 to 1 ounce of fruit juice to help them go. Get into a routine. Kids are often uncomfortable going to the bathroom outside of the home, so set a time each day, preferably after a meal, for them to sit on the toilet and try to go. Take note when your child's schedule will be disrupted - while on vacation, beginning school, or staying at a friend's house - and pay extra-close attention to thefrequency of his or her bowel movements.