The exact cause is not understood. Hypotheses include:
Must include 1 month of at least 2 of the following in infants up to 4 years of age5:
In toilet-trained children, the following additional criteria may be used:
Parents should be able to supply you with a reasonable account of the frequency and consistency of their infant’s stools. To determine constipation in an infant, the following should be queried with parents6.
The NICE Clinical Guidelines recognise the role nutrition plays in the management of FGIDs in infants and recommend conservative and nutritional approaches ahead of medical interventions3.
The guidance states that laxatives and diet modifications may help:
Very little guidance is given specifically for formula-fed infants under 6 months of age with functional constipation
It is recommended to conduct a careful history to diagnose either functional or organic constipation. Only a small number of children will have an organic cause for constipation, and beyond the neonatal period, constipation in children and infants is commonly functional constipation9. If an infant more than 2 weeks old presents with constipation, the following steps should be followed6:
Parents may find the following techniques useful to stimulate bowel movement6:
If an organic cause of constipation has been ruled out, parents should be advised on the following areas as appropriate:
If education and diet are unsuccessful, the GP should then consider treatment with medication, e.g. lactulose, malt extract or glycerine suppository.6
Please ensure your role and areas of interest are up to date.