Children can become constipated just like adults. The condition is common in children of all ages from toddlers to teenagers.
The main cause of constipation in children is a lack of fibre in the diet. Children following a diet based largely around cow's milk will be prone to developing constipation unless sufficient fruits, cereals and vegetables are also consumed.
Constipation in children is often linked to infrequent bowel movements. Sometimes if a child has a large, uncomfortable bowel movement, she will try to hold her stools in. But all this does is increase the size of the stool, and make its eventual passing much more difficult.
Constipation in children can also be caused by a distressing episode, such as a bad experience with potty training. It's very easy for a young child to develop a phobia about passing stools, and therefore do all that she can to avoid going to the toilet.
Constipation in children is best treated with dietary changes such as increasing the amount of fibre, and ensuring that enough fluids are consumed. Medications used to treat infants with constipation are relatively mild and include milk of magnesia, mineral oil and Senokot.
Occasionally constipation in children, particularly over a longer period, can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. If you are concerned, or your child has been constipated for more than three or four days, make an appointment with your doctor. In the vast majority of cases, there will be nothing to worry about, and your GP may simply prescribe a mild laxative. However, as you will no doubt be aware, it's always best to err on the side of caution as a parent.
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