Sex, Age, and Prevalence of Pediatric Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Constipation in Colombia: A Population-based Study

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Our objective was to evaluate the role of sex and age in the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional constipation (FC) in Colombian children. We hypothesized that the prevalence of IBS and FC would be higher in female adolescents than in younger female children, with no corresponding difference in boys.


We performed a cross-sectional study of Colombian children. Subjects completed the Questionnaire on Pediatric Gastrointestinal Symptoms—Rome III. Subjects were divided into child and adolescent age groups using 2 different cutoffs. Cutoffs were established at 12 and 13 years (CH-1 = 8–12 years, AD-1 = 13–18 years, CH-2 = 8–13 years, AD-2 = 14–18 years).


A total of 3891 subjects (47.0% F, mean age 12.0 years) participated. One hundred eighty-seven (4.8%) met criteria for IBS. There was no difference in sex composition between CH-1/AD-1 (56.0%, 43.5% F) and CH-2/AD-2 (53.4%, 46.8% F). Prevalence of IBS among girls was higher in CH-1 than that in AD-1 (6.4%, 3.7%, P < 0.05) and overall prevalence was higher in CH-1 than in AD-1 (5.4%, 4.0%, P < 0.05). Four hundred ninety-four (12.7%) children met criteria for FC. There was no difference in sex composition between CH-1/AD-1 (47.6%, 48.7% F) and CH-2/AD-2 (47.7%, 49.0% F). Prevalence of FC among girls was higher in CH-1/CH-2 (14.6%, 14.1%) than in AD-1/AD-2 (10.4%, P < 0.01; 9.9%, P < 0.05). Prevalence of FC overall was higher in CH-1/CH-2 (14.5%, 14.0%) than in AD-1/AD-2 (10.0%, P < 0.0001; 9.3%, P < 0.0001).


We did not find a significant female predominance among Colombian children with IBS or FC. Contrary to our hypothesis, IBS and FC prevalence was generally higher in younger children compared with adolescents regardless of sex.

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