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Constipation

Disponible En Espanol


Definition:

  • Pain or crying when passing a stool (bowel movement or BM) OR  
  • Can't pass a stool after straining or pushing longer than 10 minutes OR
  • 3 or more days without passing a stool (Exception: Breastfed and over 1 month old)

Causes 

  • High milk or cheese diet 
  • Low fiber diet
  • Postponing stools
  • Slow passage of food through the intestines. Most often, this type runs in families.
  • Breastfed type: Change in diet, such as adding formula or baby foods

How Often is Normal?

  • Once children are on normal table foods, their stool pattern is like adults. The normal range is 3 per day to 1 every 2 days.
  • Kids who go every 4 or 5 days almost always have pain with passage. They also have a lot of straining.
  • Kids who go every 3 days often drift into longer times. Then, they also develop symptoms.
  • Passing a stool should be free of pain.
  • Any child with pain during stool passage or lots of straining needs treatment. At the very least, the child should be treated with changes in diet.

Imitators of ConstipationNormal Patterns and Stools

  • Breastfed and over 1 month old. Stools every 4-7 days that are soft, large and pain-free can be normal. Caution: Before 1 month old, not stooling enough can mean not getting enough breast milk.
  • Grunting or straining while pushing out a stool is normal in young babies. It's hard to pass stool lying on your back with no help from gravity. Babies also become red in the face during straining. This is normal.
  • Brief straining under 10 minutes can occur at times at any age.
  • Large stools. Size relates to the amount of food eaten. Large eaters have larger stools.
  • Hard or dry stools are also normal if passed easily without too much straining.  Often, this relates to poor fiber intake. Some children even have small, dry rabbit-pellet-like stools.

 

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Not a Substitute - The information and materials in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you.
  • Supplement - The information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker are meant to supplement the information that you obtain from your physician. If there is a disagreement between the information presented herein and what your physician has told you -- it is more likely that your physician is correct. He or she has the benefit of knowing your child's medical problems.
  • Limitations - You should recognize that the information and materials presented here in Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker have the following limitations, in comparison to being examined by your own physician:
    • You can have a conversation with your child's doctor.
    • Your child's doctor can perform a physical examination and any necessary tests.
    • Your child could have an underlying medical problem that requires a physician to detect.
    • If your child is taking medications, they could influence how he experiences various symptoms.

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