Kids who frequently soil themselves tend to have more problems paying attention and are more likely to develop obsessions and compulsions, say researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany.
The parents of 8,242 7- to 8-year-old children born in the United Kingdom reported whether and how often their children soiled themselves. The parents also noted whether the kids experienced emotional or behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety, fearfulness, sadness or depression, difficulty paying attention, or defying authority. The kids answered questions about whether they'd ever been bullied or whether they'd ever bullied others. They also answered questions about their friendships, self-esteem, and school performance.
About 1% of the children soiled once a week or more, and about 5% soiled on occasion, but less than once a week. More boys than girls had problems with soiling.
Based on parent reports, the study also showed that kids who soiled had significantly higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems. In addition, those who soiled more often tended to have more severe problems than those who soiled only once in a while. In particular, kids who soiled frequently had trouble with:
- paying attention and hyperactivity
- obsessions and compulsions
- oppositional behavior (such as frequent temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults, defiance, and frequent anger and resentment)
In addition, they were more likely to be bullies and victims of bullying than kids who didn't soil or soiled only once in a while.
What This Means to You. The authors of this study point out that frequent soiling may result from a combination of behavioral and nutritional problems, psychological and neurological issues, and genetic factors. If your child is toilet trained but still soils regularly, talk to your doctor, since the results of this study indicate that soiling may be associated with behavioral and social problems, too.
Source: Carol Joinson, PHD; Jon Heron, PHD; Ursula Butler, MRCPCH; Alexander von Gontard, MD; the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Study Team; Pediatrics, May 2006.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2006