Constipation: Very Common Problem in Our Children

The constipation is a common problem of childhood. Approximately 5% of visits to the pediatrician are caused by constipation, affecting 30% of kids in the United States, mainly preschool children.

Types of Constipation:

There are two types of constipation: functional and organic. Which in turn can cause acute or chronic pain.
Functional constipation causes more than 95% of constipation in healthy children. It is always very important to thoroughly checkup children suffering from constipation to be sure that there is no organic cause. It is important to pay attention to the psychosocial and environmental factors that affect your children, such as:

  • Some painful evacuation.
  • Difficulties with toilet training.
  • Introduction of cow’s milk in the diet.
  • The content of food with low fiber content.
  • Inadequate intake of water per day.

Organic constipation is caused by several reasons:

  • Bladder dysfunction is associated with ano-rectal dysfunction.
  • Dysfunction of the spinal cord or the autonomic nervous system.
  • Children who have low muscle tone.
  • Intolerance to cow’s milk.
  • Celiac Disease.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Hirschsprung’s disease.
  • Infant botulism.
  • Lead poisoning.
  • Intestinal obstruction.


Despite obtaining a good clinical history and performing a good physical examination, if we find signs that there could be an organic component then we must perform several procedures such as:

  • Laboratory analysis.
  • Radiographic studies.
  • Special studies of intestinal motility.

Complication of Constipation:

  • Anal fissure
  • Painful defecation
  • Hard and large evacuation.
  • Fecal incontinence.
  • Hemorrhoids.


  • Eat high fiber diets
  • Ingestion of adequate fluid per day, including milk
  • Laxatives
  • Enemas

How Can We Prevent Constipation?

Adequate Diet: It is very important to have a discussion with your pediatrician about the most appropriate diet for your children depending on their age. When children transition to a solid diet it is important that they have the right amount of fibers to help them evacuate naturally. We get the fibers from an adequate supply of vegetables and fruits.
Adequate Toilet Training: It is important to know when children begin to show signs that they want to use the bathroom. Support him and try to make toilet training easier for him.

-Dr. Denise Núñez is a pediatrician and founder of the Niño de la Caridad Foundation in the Bronx.