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Guideline published on childhood constipation

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NICE has released new guidelines for the management of idiopathic childhood constipation.

Childhood constipation affects approximately 30% of children in the UK. Social, physiological and educational problems occur and often need long-standing support. Early diagnosis and support can significantly improve these consequences.

Jenny Gordon, NICE Guideline Development Group Chair, said: “For years, I think there has been a lack of understanding surrounding this condition – parents are often reluctant to go to their GP, and may be very embarrassed or even ashamed if their child has constipation. We need to raise awareness of these issues, and be bolder in talking about childhood constipation, which can affect all areas of a child’s life. These guidelines are much needed and will help so many children. We now need to make sure that they are used and implemented” 

Adrian Thomas, Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This is not time-consuming or costly – it’s simply good old-fashioned medicine, which will help many children suffering from this upsetting condition.”

The guidelines include instruction for examination, disimpaction, laxative therapy, follow-up, maintenance therapy, dietary recommendations and informing parents.

Jenny Perez, director of childhood continence charity ERIC, welcomed the guidelines. She said: “I am delighted these guidelines are being published. Many children suffer in misery with constipation – some for many years. But with the right support and treatment, these children can be helped.  ERIC fully supports these guidelines; the next step is for GPs and clinicians to follow them, and intervene early if a child has suspected constipation. This can save both time and money, and can prevent a child from enduring this distressing condition.”

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