Bowel Management and Quality of Life in Children With Spina Bifida in South Korea

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Bowel management is a concern in patients with spina bifida. We evaluated the status of bowel management in children with spina bifida (SB) and the effects on quality of life (QoL) of children and their caregivers. Data were collected from 173 children with SB between January and June 2011, whose bowel management status and QoL were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. Of the 173 children, 38 (22.0%) reported normal defecation, 73 (42.2%) reported constipation only, and 62 (35.8%) reported fecal incontinence with/without constipation. For defecation, 59 children (34.1%) used digital stimulation or manual extraction, 28 (16.2%) used suppositories or enemas, 35 (20.3%) used laxatives, 4 (2.3%) used an antegrade continence enema, and 3 (1.7%) used transanal irrigation. There were significant differences in QoL, depending on defecation symptoms. Children with fecal incontinence and their caregivers had difficulties in travel and socialization (p < .0001), caregivers' emotions (p < .0001), family relationships (p < .0001), and finances (p < .0001). Constipation and fecal incontinence affect QoL of children with SB and their caregivers. Therefore, more attention should be paid to bowel problems and help should be provided to children and their caregivers to improve QoL.

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