Constipation in children: fibre and probiotics

BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Mar 10;2015:0303.


Introduction: Prevalence of childhood constipation has been estimated at 1% to 30% in the general population worldwide; most children have no obvious aetiological factors. One third of children with chronic constipation continue to have problems beyond puberty. Half of the children with chronic faecal impaction and faecal incontinence have experienced an episode of painful defecation, and many children with chronic constipation exhibit withholding behaviour.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of fibre for children with chronic constipation? What are the effects of probiotics for children with chronic constipation? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to May 2014 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: We found 12 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: fibre and probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Constipation / diet therapy
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Dietary Fiber*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dietary Fiber