advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Cure for a Common Childhood Problem?

My three-year-old daughter suffers from constipation. Prunes and pear juice aren't working, and she can be a picky eater. What do you recommend?

A
Answer (Published 6/26/2003)

Updated on 6/30/2005

Constipation is a common problem for children and is usually temporary. Strictly speaking, a child is constipated if he or she has fewer than three bowel movements per week or if the stools are hard, dry, and unusually large or difficult to pass. Because constipation can make bowel movements painful, youngsters may try to avoid having them. (In addition, about 60 percent of constipated children experience recurrent abdominal pain, a common stress-related condition in youngsters.)

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that energy is vital to keeping up with the kids. Find out what foods and supplements can keep you energized - naturally! Join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online plan today and get 14 days free!

The causes of constipation in kids are usually simple and relatively easy to correct: not enough fiber in their diets, not drinking enough liquids or not getting enough exercise. Then, too, constipation can occur when youngsters ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. They can do this for reasons ranging from not wanting to take a break from playing to embarrassment at using a public bathroom or because a parent isn't around to help when the urge occurs. Medication can also be a factor. So if your daughter is taking any type of a drug, make sure that it isn't to blame. Those that can cause constipation include aspirin and codeine, vitamins with high doses of iron, the bismuth in Pepto-Bismol, as well as some chemotherapy agents (vincristine) and some psychiatric drugs (imipramine).

I consulted my colleague, Sandy Newmark, M.D., a pediatrician here at the University of Arizona Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, about the best way to deal with constipation in young children. Here are his recommendations:

  • Decrease dairy products: These foods can be constipating. You'll need to provide your daughter with an alternative source of calcium such as calcium-fortified soy milk or a calcium-fortified breakfast cereal.
  • Increase fluids: Encourage your daughter to drink lots of water.
  • Increase fiber: Give her lots of high-fiber fruits and vegetables as well as high-fiber cereals, whole grain breads and beans.

Although these measures will probably do the trick, if her episodes of constipation last longer than three weeks and prevent her from participating in her normal activities, you might want to consult her pediatrician. Don't be tempted by the laxatives designed for children on the market. They can be dangerous to youngsters and should be given only under the direction of a pediatrician.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here