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Children often become constipated because they hold in stool. As a result, the colon absorbs too much fluid and the stool becomes dry and hard to pass. Children may hold in stool because they:

  • Don’t want to stop whatever activity they’re doing, such as playing.
  • Are embarrassed to use a public bathroom.
  • Are worried the bowel movement will be painful.
  • Are nervous about learning to use the bathroom or are not ready developmentally for toilet training.

Other causes of constipation in children include:

  • A low-fiber diet
  • Not getting enough fluids
  • Certain medications, including antacids, anticholinergics for muscle spasms, narcotics for pain, and some treatments for depression
  • Health problems that make the stool move slowly through the colon
  • Problems with the way the gastrointestinal system works
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (the colon muscle tightens quickly)
  • An illness that causes a loss of appetite
  • Stress caused by school or by changes in routine, weather or travel


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