Combined approach to functional constipation in children

Silvia Amendola, P. De Angelis, L. Dall'Oglio, G. Federici Di Abriola, M. Di Lorenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Purpose: The authors' 15-year experience with children shows a high percentage of recurrence of functional constipation (FC) with conventional treatment. These data, confirmed in the international literature, led them to develop a new therapeutic approach. The aim of this study was to achieve intestinal control and avoid recurrence of FC in children through use of medical-psychological treatment. Methods: The authors studied 25 children (18 boys; mean age, 4.7 years; range, 2,10 to 7), 20% of whom had anal fissure, 30% retentive soiling, 52% pain on defecation, and 88% fecal retention owing to FC. Children and parents were questioned about eating and sleeping habits, school, toilet training, and daily routine. Treatment included increasing water and fiber intake, laxatives, and family therapy including making rules and working on autonomy and paternal role. Results: Mean onset of FC was 3.5 years, after "stressful events" in 88%. The questionnaire shows that 68% lacked parental autonomy and authority; 84% of children decided on their own about eating habits and sleeping; 68% had a "peripheral" father with a mother-child symbiotic relationship. After one month of therapy, 92% of children showed a modification of at least 2 behavioral patterns; after 3 months, 88% had regular bowel movements. During follow-up (range, 6 to 28 months), 48% had 2 or 3 recurrent episodes. After one year, 68% had reinforced the new behavioral patterns with resolution of the pathologic aspects, Conclusions: A multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of childhood functional constipation showed consistent therapeutic results by making rules and by equalizing family roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-823
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2003


  • Constipation
  • Encopresis
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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