For children, as with adults, constipation is characterized by either infrequent bowel movements or the passage of dry, hard stools. Though it can be uncomfortable or painful, it is usually easy to treat and only temporary.
In the Pediatric Healthy Gut & Constipation Program at Yale Medicine, families work with specialists trained to treat children. According to Danya Rosen, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Yale Medicine, medication works quickly and can be helpful as a temporary solution, but “we are passionate about stressing the role dietary changes can make in establishing good health and regularity.”
Almost one out of every 20 visits children make to the doctor are related to constipation, but Yale Medicine’s Nadia Ameen, MBBS, says she believes that as many as 50 to 75 percent of children's visits to a pediatric gastroenterologist are related to constipation.
“The problem is widespread and has a lot of implications on a child’s wellbeing, including school attendance if a child is ashamed because they have soiling problems caused by constipation,” notes Dr. Ameen, a pediatric gastroenterologist. “But if we can get families to plan good meals and make any other necessary changes, we can eradicate it.”