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How to manage constipation in children?

Q: My son has a problem of constipation. At birth he did not pass the first stool and required an enema and the problem recurred after a month. He is now 2 and half year old. When we dont give him milk he passes stool normally but when there is a problem we have to give him simple enema. Is simple enema harmful and can he overcome this problem without surgery? The number of enemas required by him are fewer now and we notice that milk worsens the situation.

A:Your child is most probably suffering from habitual constipation. As stated in your query, it is gradually improving by itself and no medical treatment will be necessary. There is no need for a surgery to correct this disorder unless investigations have shown an abormality or the constipation is worsening. It is not advisable to give regular enemas to an infant to correct constipation. It should be tried in situations where the child is in distress due to non-passage of stool for days and when other medications fail. Often application of suppositories containing glycerine or dulcolax is helpful. Allowing an increase in the bulk of stool by increasing the fiber content of the diet is another alternative. Malabsorption of milk or contents of milk such as lactose usually produces protracted diarrhoea rather than constipation. It is possible that milk induces constipation when taken in isolation without other weaning foods thus causing low roughage. But if this is a real observation, then consultation with a pediatrician is necessary to find out the cause for the same.

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