Hong Kong Med J 2005;11:431-6 | Number 6, December 2005
A community-based study of the prevalence of constipation in young children and the role of dietary fibre
KS Ip, WTK Lee, JSH Chan, BWY Young
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, Chai Wan, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. To study the prevalence of constipation in young children, and to explore its association with dietary fibre intake.
DESIGN. Cross-sectional community-based study.
SETTING. Three kindergartens randomly selected from the eastern district of Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. Between October 2003 and January 2004, parents of children aged 3 to 5 years completed a specially designed questionnaire and a 3-day dietary record form, which were used to collect information on bowel function and dietary intake. Children with constipation were identified based on Rome criteria. Children with normal bowel habits served as a comparison group.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Dietary intake of energy, protein, and dietary fibre.
RESULTS. Of 778 children recruited, 561 complete sets of data were successfully obtained from the participating kindergartens. One hundred and sixty-six (29.6%) children were found to be constipated. The incidence of a family history of constipation was significantly higher in the constipated group (14%) than in the non-constipated group (7%) [P=0.013]. Mean dietary fibre consumption was 4.1 g/d (standard deviation, 2.3 g/d) in all children corresponding to 45.5% (standard deviation, 24.9%) of the daily recommendation. Constipated children (mean, 40.7%; standard deviation, 20.5%) had a significantly lower dietary fibre intake of the daily recommendation than the non-constipated group (mean, 47.5%; standard deviation, 26.2%) [P=0.017].
CONCLUSION. Up to 30% of preschool children in the eastern district had constipation. A family history of constipation was related to its occurrence in the studied children. Dietary fibre intake was insufficient in all children and even lower in those who were constipated.
Key words: Child; Constipation; Dietary fiber; Prevalence
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