Constipation in pediatric cystic fibrosis patients: an underestimated medical condition

J Cyst Fibros. 2010 Jan;9(1):59-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Dec 8.


Background: The aims of this study were to determine prevalence, risk factors and treatment of constipation in patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), as well as the diagnostic value of abdominal radiography.

Methods: A cohort of 214 pediatric CF patients was investigated. Furthermore, 106 abdominal radiographs of CF patients with or without constipation were independently assessed by three observers on two separate occasions using the Barr and Leech scores.

Results: The prevalence of constipation was 47%. Low total fat absorption and meconium ileus were independent risk factors for constipation in CF, while fiber and fluid intake were not associated. In CF patients the inter and intraobserver variabilities of the Barr and Leech scores were poor to moderate.

Conclusion: Constipation is a significant medical issue in CF and was associated with low total fat absorption and a history of meconium ileus. Finally, abdominal radiography seems of little value in the regular follow-up of CF patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Constipation / epidemiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ileus / diagnostic imaging
  • Ileus / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnostic imaging
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Meconium
  • Observer Variation
  • Prevalence
  • Radiography, Abdominal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Steatorrhea / diagnostic imaging
  • Steatorrhea / epidemiology


  • Dietary Fats