Physical activity may decrease the likelihood of children developing constipation

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Childhood constipation is common. We evaluated children diagnosed with constipation, who were referred to an Icelandic paediatric emergency department, and determined the effect of lifestyle factors on its aetiology.


The parents of children who were diagnosed with constipation and participated in a phase IIB clinical trial on laxative suppositories answered an online questionnaire about their children's lifestyle and constipation in March–April 2013. The parents of nonconstipated children that visited the paediatric department of Landspitali University Hospital or an Icelandic outpatient clinic answered the same questionnaire.


We analysed responses regarding 190 children aged one year to 18 years: 60 with constipation and 130 without. We found that 40% of the constipated children had recurrent symptoms, 27% had to seek medical attention more than once and 33% received medication per rectum. The 47 of 130 control group subjects aged 10-18 were much more likely to exercise more than three times a week (72%) and for more than a hour (62%) than the 26 of 60 constipated children of the same age (42% and 35%, respectively).


Constipation risk factors varied with age and many children diagnosed with constipation had recurrent symptoms. Physical activity may affect the likelihood of developing constipation in older children.

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