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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of constipation in children

Mō te kōroke ki ngā tamariki

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Constipation is a very common problem for tamariki (children). For most tamariki children , constipation means passing hard stools (poo) with difficulty and less frequently than normal.

Soiling (also known as faecal soiling or encopresis) is also a common problem that affects many tamariki. Soiling is when a tamaiti (child) poos in their pants after the age you would expect them to be toilet trained. It can happen to any toddler, or tamaiti child teenager.

Symptoms of constipation in children

Your tamaiti may be constipated if:

Causes of constipation in children

There are many reasons why your tamaiti might be constipated.

Diagnosing constipation in children

Tests aren't normally needed to diagnose constipation.

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions about your child's bowel habits and diet, and examine your child. The doctor may look at your child's anus to check there are no small splits or tears that may cause bleeding and make it painful for your tamaiti to pass a poo.

Your doctor may also check that there is no underlying disease or condition that might be causing your child's constipation.

Treating constipation in children

You can help your tamaiti child by increasing the fluid and fibre in their diet, encouraging daily physical activity and having a regular toilet habit. Helping your child with constipation has more information about this.

Sometimes tamariki children will also need medication to help with constipation known as laxatives.

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On the next page: Helping your child with constipation

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2022.

See also:

Constipation in adults

Constipation in babies

Page reference: 394427

Review key: HICOC-14683