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  • What you Need to Know about Constipation in Children

    Learn the causes, how to prevent it, and when it's time to see the doctor.
    by Gretchen Agdamag, MD .
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    What you can do
    Constipation in children is best managed by the following:

    • Make changes in the child’s eating habits.  These include increasing the amount of fluid intake (water and fruit juices) and increasing fiber in the diet.  Foods rich in fiber include whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  It would likewise help to make eating fun - have your child help in preparing these high-fiber meals!
    • Serve meals on schedule so the kids will have enough time and not miss the opportunity to use the bathroom regularly.
    • Encourage children to adapt healthy bowel habits. This requires you as a parent to be patient too.  Make it a pleasant time for them - avoid embarrassing or punishing situations.  Sometimes small rewards may help to motivate a child.  
    • Increase the amount of exercise or physical activity as this aids digestion by helping normalize intestine movement as food is digested.

    Although frequently used to clear episodes of impaction and also to restore regular bowel movement, laxatives, suppositories and enemas should only be given under the strict care and supervision of your pediatrician or physician. Although readily available remedies, DO NOT use them without consulting your child's physician first.

    When to see your doctor
    Never hesitate to visit a pediatrician if you have any concerns about your child’s bowel patterns.  In most cases, constipation can be determined by taking the child’s medical history and a physical examination. In others, a simple abdominal x-ray may be needed. In general, though, see a doctor at the earliest time if the constipation is accompanied by episodes of fever, vomiting, blood in the stools, or if there is a noticeable enlargement of the abdomen, weight loss, or if the child is now unable to participate in normal activities because of constipation.

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