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 Herbal Medicine: Childhood Constipation 
 
Although rarely seen in breast fed babies, it is not abnormal for breast fed babies to have bowel movements as infrequently as one in seven days. Treat breast fed infants for constipation only if the child appears to have pain and cries during the bowel movement. The indications for treatment in bottle fed babies or young children include:
  • Painful passage. Pain during bowel movement is abnormal and in some cases trauma to the anal canal can lead to anal fissure. This is confirmed by finding bright red blood around anus or on toilet paper.
  • Inability to pass stools. Children who feel the need to have a bowel movement and are unable to do so. The exception is infants less that 12 months of age who grunt push, or strain, and become flushed in the face during bowel movements. This is normal behavior as long as the episode is not accompanied by pain.
  • Infrequent movements, going more than four days for young children.
If bowel movements are accompanied by much pain, abdominal bloating and crying it is important to refer for skilled diagnosis to rule out conditions such as Hirschsprungs disease, impaction, etc..

It is inappropriate to use laxative remedies with children unless absolutely necessary, as constipation almost always responds to dietary changes. For babies over six months of age you may add strained apricots, prunes, pears to the diet. For older children try:
  • Increase intake of water.
  • Increase fruits and vegetables particularly raw foods with peels such as figs, raisins, pears, apricots, beans, celery, cucumber, lettuce, apples.
  • Increase fibre by using whole grain cereals or making bran muffins.
  • Decrease constipating foods, e.g. dairy products, white rice, bananas, cooked carrots, white flour.
  • Use Psyllium seed preparations in children over two years of age.
  • Flavored cod liver oil.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
 
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