Everyone has a different normal bowel pattern. For example, some children have bowel movements only once every 2-4 days. It is common for breast-fed or formula-fed babies to have large, soft bowel movements without pain up to 5 days apart. Others have bowel movements 2-4 times daily.
However, a child is constipated whenever his/her pattern slows down noticeably, with hard stools that are difficult to pass out. Sometimes constipation can cause recurrent tummy pain. Once constipation begins, it tends to continue, unless proper treatment and lifestyle modifications are started early.
Very rarely, some diseases can cause constipation. In these cases, the problem usually begins in the early weeks of life. Some examples include nerve problems in the large intestines (known as Hirschsprung disease), hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), spinal abnormalities (such as spina bifida) or anal malformations (e.g. imperforate anus or anal stenosis).
In most toddlers and children, there is no disease and constipation is often related to dietary/lifestyle/toileting factors. Some of the factors that may contribute to the onset of constipation are:
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