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    South Asian Children: Constipation

    How do I know if my child is constipated?

    Bowel movement patterns in children may range from one to two stools a day to once very two to three days. This may be normal for your child as long as he or she is healthy and is passing stools without any discomfort or pain.

    Some signs of constipation:

    • Hard, dry stools
    • Excess straining and/or pain during bowel movements
    • Abdominal pain or cramping
    • Excess gas

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    What causes constipation?

    Your child may be constipated for the following reasons:

    • Inadequate fluid intake
    • Inadequate fiber intake
    • Illness, which reduces appetite and disrupts bowel pattern
    • Change in usual routine, such as traveling or hot weather

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    How can I prevent and/or treat my child’s constipation?

    Fiber is an essential part of a child’s diet that can help keep bowel movements regular. (See below for a table of fiber-rich foods.) The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between the ages of 2 to 19 eat a daily amount of fiber that equals his or her age plus 5 grams of fiber.

    Example: A 2-year-old child should receive 7 grams of fiber each day (2+5=7).

    It is also important to encourage your child to keep a regular bowel routine, setting aside the same time each day for bowel movements. An ideal time is after meals, since a full stomach will stimulate the bowels to move. Like adults, children want to move their bowels in private. If your child is not potty trained, set aside a special corner of the house for him or her to have privacy. Do not pressure your child, since stress and anxiety may make bowel movements more difficult.

    Food Fiber Content
    Pear with skin (small)
    Apple with skin (med
    Raspberries, raw (1/2 cup)

    4.6 grams
    3.5 grams
    4 grams
    Vegetables cooked
    Cauliflower (1/2 cup)
    Carrots (1/2 cup)
    Broccoli (1/2 cup)
    Green peas(1/2 cup)
    Sweet potato, baked w/peel(med)
    Mixed vegetables

    1.25 grams
    2.3 grams
    2.5 grams
    4.4 grams
    4.8 grams
    4.0 grams
    Beans cooked
    Lentils (1/2 cup)
    Kidney beans (1/2 cup)
    Garbanzo beans (1/2 cup)

    7.8 grams
    8.2 grams
    6-7 grams
    Whole grains cooked
    Whole wheat chapatti (1)
    Med Grain Brown rice (1/2 cup)
    Bulgur (1/2 cup)
    Oat bran, raw (1/4 cup)
    Wheat bran, raw (1/4 cup)

    1.5 grams
    1.8 grams
    4.1 grams
    3.6 grams
    6.2 grams

    If your child does not enjoy eating many of these high fiber foods, try sprinkling or mixing the bran powder into his or her favorite foods. For example, try mixing bran powder into yogurt, pancake batter, or baked goods and chapati flour.

    Last reviewed: 2012

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