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3 Medical Conditions that Cause Constipation in Kids

Published December 12, 2023

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Common causes of constipation include a variety of factors such as stress, diet, and hydration status. However, sometimes it can also be a symptom from undiagnosed medical conditions that lead to constipation as a side effect. Let’s review three common medical conditions that can cause constipation in kids.

1. Hirschsprung's Disease

Hirschsprung's Disease is a congenital condition where nerve cells are missing in the muscles of the colon, leading to difficulty in passing stool. This absence of nerve cells causes a lack of movement in certain parts of the colon, resulting in constipation. Research by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reveals that around 1 in 5,000 babies in the United States are born with Hirschsprung's Disease. It requires medical intervention, often in the form of surgery, to remove the affected portion of the colon.

2. Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In kids with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease, the inflammation and damage to the small intestine can cause constipation among other symptoms. According to studies from the Celiac Disease Foundation, about 1 in 100 people worldwide are affected by this condition [2]. A gluten-free diet is the primary treatment for managing celiac disease, which helps alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms including constipation.

Begin Health Expert Tip: Look for more ways to help your kiddo with constipation relief? Check out our blog 4 Natural Quick Relief Tips for Kids Constipation.

3. Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid imbalances, particularly hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones, can significantly impact bowel movements in kiddos. Research data suggests that kids with hypothyroidism commonly experience constipation as a symptom. Treatment often involves hormone replacement therapy prescribed by healthcare professionals to restore thyroid hormone levels to normal, subsequently relieving constipation.

Begin Health Expert Tip: While these medical conditions can contribute to constipation in kids, it's important to note that proper diagnosis and management by healthcare providers are crucial.

Additionally, incorporating prebiotics such as Growing Up Prebiotics into your little one’s diet can aid in promoting gut health by restoring a balanced microbiome. Prebiotics act as fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting a healthy digestive system and potentially easing constipation through softer and more frequent stooling [4].
Summary: While constipation in kids can be a concern, understanding the underlying medical conditions that may contribute to this symptom can help guide parents reveal potential root causes of pediatric constipation. Seeking professional medical advice, maintaining a healthy diet, and considering prebiotics as part of a holistic approach to support digestive health can significantly benefit kiddos experiencing constipation due to medical conditions.


[1] Baum AL, Nguyen A, Valentine MJ, Vollin L, Mcnab CR, Kirila CE. Hirschsprung Disease: A Literacy Analysis of Patient Information. Cureus. 2023 Oct 10;15(10):e46806. doi: 10.7759/cureus.46806. PMID: 37954798; PMCID: PMC10637761.

[2] Sahin Y. Celiac disease in children: A review of the literature. World J Clin Pediatr. 2021 Jul 9;10(4):53-71. doi: 10.5409/wjcp.v10.i4.53. PMID: 34316439; PMCID: PMC8290992.

[3] Tahan S, Siviero-Miachon AA, de Faria Soares MF, Soares Martins-Moura EC, Peterlini FL, Batista de Morais M, Spinola-Castro AM. Untreated Congenital Hypothyroidism Mimicking Hirschsprung Disease: A Puzzling Case in a One-Year-Old Child. Case Rep Pediatr. 2018 Jun 28;2018:9209873. doi: 10.1155/2018/9209873. PMID: 30050717; PMCID: PMC6046164.

[4] Closa-Monasterolo R, Ferré N, Castillejo-DeVillasante G, Luque V, Gispert-Llaurado M, Zaragoza-Jordana M, Theis S, Escribano J. The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Aug;68(5):587-594. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 27931142.

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.