Offered by Brittany LaVoy, MD
Constipation is a very common problem that can affect children at any age. It can cause pain, nausea, decreased appetite, and even trouble potty training due to fear of pain when stooling. Newborns often appear to have trouble with constipation. They will seem to strain, appear red in the face, and be very fussy prior to having a stool. All of these behaviors are normal at this age as infants are learning to stool. As long as their stools are soft, this will decrease and resolve with time. If at any point your baby has hard, pebble like stools, you should discuss with your pediatrician options to soften their stools. In young infants, this usually involves a small amount of dark corn syrup or prune juice.
For older children, constipation presents with symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, and decreased appetite without viral symptoms such as fever. If your child has hard stools or these symptoms, speak with their pediatrician regarding possible treatment options. The majority of children do not have a specific cause for their constipation, but there are things you can do to help prevent constipation for your child. Making sure your child drinks plenty of water and eats fruits and vegetables are good ways to help prevent constipation. For some children, scheduled bathroom times after meals or the use of fiber gummies can also help.
If these basic measures are not enough your pediatrician may discuss the use of a stool softener called Miralax which is safe to use daily for long periods of time if needed. Stimulant laxatives containing senna and enemas are not recommended for long term treatment of constipation.
For further questions about constipation, speak with your pediatrician and visit Brightonpeds.com.
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