Limited physical activity, low fluid intake, excessive consumption of dairy products including full-cream milk, and high intake of fried food, and chocolates have resulted in a surge in the cases of severe constipation in children belonging to the age group of 2 to 12 years. Dr. Syed Mustafa Hasan, Director and Senior Consultant, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital said he has been seeing about 10 such cases in his OPD every day.
The doctor has further stated that the covid pandemic has made children susceptible to many health issues such as obesity, early puberty, vitamin D deficiency, and mental and behavioral problems besides constipation. But the incidence of constipation has increased in clinical practice, with 1 in 4 children attending paediatric OPD having underlying constipation.
“Constipation in children has always been underrated and undiagnosed. It’s one of the neglected issues in children. It is comorbidity and the incidence of which is increasing exponentially due to sedentary lifestyles and eating habits. The condition can have symptoms varying from abdominal discomfort to other indications like failure to thrive, irritability, and recurrent episodes of gastroenteritis. Sometimes patients need to rush to the hospital. The condition is rare in infants but it’s quite prevalent in kids between 2 to 12 years. Sometimes some children are allergic to cow milk or consuming too many dairy products (cheese and cow's milk) leads to constipation,” said Dr. Hasan.
To cure the condition, Dr. Hasan has highlighted the need for early diagnosis and prolonged medication along with dietary intervention. Serve your children more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain cereals. If your child isn't used to a high-fiber diet, start by adding just several grams of fiber a day to prevent gas and bloating.
“We have seen that parents take this condition lightly until and unless the issue becomes severe. They come to the hospital when the child needs to be admitted in the hospital. Generally, we give medicines for four months but parents stop giving their children medicines when their motions become normal after a few weeks. This results in the recurrence of severe constipation. The condition can be controlled with frequent antibiotics temporarily. But, many times the condition demands advanced investigations that need a prolonged hospital stay. We urge parents to inculcate a healthy lifestyle in their kids right from their childhood. They should have a balanced diet coupled with an active lifestyle. All these can prevent this problem in a majority of our children,” he added.
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