Constipation is a common problem in children but little is known about its exact pathophysiology. Environmental, behavioural but also genetic factors are thought to play a role in the aetiology of childhood constipation. We provide an overview of genetic studies performed in constipation. Until now, linkage studies, association studies and direct gene sequencing have failed to identify mutations in specific genes associated with constipation. We show that along with functional constipation, there are numerous clinical syndromes associated with childhood constipation. These syndromic forms of constipation appear to be the result of mutations in genes affecting all aspects of the normal physiology of human defecation. We stress that syndromic causes of childhood constipation should be considered in the evaluation of a constipated child.
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