Evaluation of bowel function in healthy children: Untreated constipation is common

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: We evaluated bowel function in healthy children with regard to gender and age. Methods: The study was carried out in 2016 at a tertiary children's hospital. Healthy children aged 3.5 years to 15 years who were admitted to the hospital, siblings to patients or offspring of staff members were included. Validated self-report questionnaires and internally developed questions regarding obstructive outlet- and gas-related symptoms were used. Results: A total of 310 participants (50% girls) were included, which corresponded to a 94% answer frequency. Respondents were divided into a younger age group (3.5 years to seven years), consisting of 135 children, and an older age group (eight years to 15 years), consisting of 175 children. Younger children reported more foul odours than older children (50% vs. 29%, p = 0.001) and more obstructive symptoms (21% vs. 10%, p = 0.01). There was no difference between the age groups regarding constipation (19% vs 16%, NS). Overall, 55% of those with constipation had no treatment for the condition, although they reported abdominal pain (51%) and problems with foul odours (57%). Conclusion: Healthy children frequently reported constipation, abdominal pain and gas-related problems, but treatment was rare. Overall, bowel function seemed to improve during childhood, although constipation remained largely untreated.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pediatrics


  • Abdominal pain, Bowel function, Constipation, Gas-related symptoms, Healthy children
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-885
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number5
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch