BENGALURU: Constipation or infrequent passage of stools is more commonly seen in children. It is not just how often a child goes to the toilet, it also refers to how hard the stools are passed. It is characterised by:
a. Having fewer than 3 bowel movements a week.
b. Having trouble passing bowels
c. Have hard and dry stools
Lack of fibre and water causes constipation. Also, high intake of processed foods, cheeses, white bread, Junk food, meats cause constipation in children. A diet full of fatty, sugary, starchy foods slows the bowel movements down. Apart from food, iron supplements given to children too cause constipation. Also if the child is drinking too much of milk and not getting enough solids, constipation becomes frequent. An allergy to cow’s milk or a high intake of dairy products like cheese or cow’s milk also can be a cause.
One of the more common times for children to become constipated is when they are switching from an all liquid diet to the one that includes solid foods. This problem is also seen if your child is sick and his appetite drops down which eventually causes a change in his or her diet. Family history of constipation also can cause it due to shared genetic and environmental factors.
Nowadays toddlers, who are on toilet training, become constipated especially if they aren’t ready. For some children who avoid going to the bathroom, even if they have the urge to go or who don’t want to stop playing fun games or who don’t want to use restroom, which is away from home usually face this problem as ignoring the urge makes it harder for them to go later. Last but not the least, a change in the child’s routine like travelling, extreme summers and hot weather or stress also affects the bowel functioning.
The author is the chief colorectal surgeon and founder, Smiles Hospital