A campaign has been launched to help health professionals raise awareness of constipation in children.
This month posters are being put up in health centres and GP practices to let parents know that if their child is soiling themselves, it could indicate they are suffering from constipation.
Resources will also be given to nurses, doctors and other health professionals to help explain to parents what their child’s bowel movements could mean and how to access the right kind of treatment and support. These will include a wall chart and a questionnaire which should be filled in with the child.
Charity ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) is behind the nationwide awareness drive. The organisation claims almost one in three children suffer from constipation and that it will become chronic for more than a third of those youngsters.
NICE guidelines claim that many of the signs and symptoms of constipation are often missed. They add parents might be reluctant to seek medical advice if their children suffer from fecal incontinence as they may feel it is a behavioural issue or be too embarrassed to discuss it.
However, ERIC claims that the sooner the problem is spotted, the easier it is to treat. The charity warns that if childhood constipation goes undiagnosed and untreated, the youngster can lose their appetite, find themselves unable to control their bowel movements, suffer from serious stomach pains and experience problems with their confidence and self-esteem.
If the problem is not tackled for a long period of time it can cause issues for the whole family, including social isolation and feelings of frustration and despair.
ERIC’s campaign, which is known as Let’s Talk About Poo, wants to make it easier for mums and dads to talk about going to the toilet with their children.
ERIC’s information hub manager Eileen Jacques said there was a lack of awareness among parents of the symptoms of constipation. She said when a child soiled themselves, it was often dismissed as them being too lazy to go to the toilet in time, when in fact an underlying medical problem could be to blame.
She added that she hoped the campaign would help both health professionals and parents recognise constipation so the problem could be tackled quickly.
The resources are available to be downloaded from the ERIC website.