More than Two Years of Constipation Before Specialty Help

A recent article (S Malowitz et al. JPGN 2016; 62: 600-02) examined the age of onset of constipation in a retrospective review of 538 children with functional constipation between 2012-2014.

Key findings:

  • Median age of onset was 2.3 years
  • On average, “2.7 years pass between the onset of functional constipation and a referral to a specialist.”  In the oldest quartile, the lapse between onset and referral was shorter, 1.8 years.  This may reflect the social consequences of soiling in school-aged children.

The authors note: “encouraging clinicians and parents to think of constipation as a chronic problem with physical and mental health implications may improve outcomes and quality of life for affected children.”

My take: The suffering and burden of constipation is easily overlooked in a busy primary care visit.  This is a shame because this is one area where inexpensive specialty care (i.e. minimal testing) can truly make a big difference.

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