Prevalence, symptoms and outcome of constipation in infants and toddlers

J Pediatr. 2005 Mar;146(3):359-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2004.10.046.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of constipation in children <or=2 years, describe the symptoms of constipation, and review how often specific interventions were effective.

Study design: Retrospective chart review.

Results: Of 4,157 children <2 years of age, 185 children had constipation. The prevalence rate for constipation in the first year of life was 2.9%, and in the second year of life, the rate was 10.1%. Functional constipation was the cause in 97% of the children. Boys and girls were affected with equal frequency. Constipation was caused by an underlying organic disease in 1.6% of cases, and 97% of the children had functional constipation. Dietary changes and corn syrup were the initial treatment suggestions for 116 children; 93% of these children underwent follow-up examinations, and the constipation resolved in 25% of the children. Of 100 children treated with milk of magnesia or polyethylene glycol 3350 without electrolytes, 93 children underwent follow-up examinations, and the constipation was resolved with treatment in 92% of the children.

Conclusions: Dietary changes, corn syrup, or both resolved constipation in 25% of children, and laxatives resolved constipation in 92% of children. Both milk of magnesia and polyethylene glycol were efficient and safe in infants and toddlers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Constipation / therapy
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fructose / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage


  • Cathartics
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Magnesium