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Lab Tests for Pediatric Constipation: Supporting Digestive Health in Kids

Published August 24, 2023

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Constipation in kids can be a worrisome issue for parents. As a naturopathic doctor specializing in pediatrics, I understand your concerns, and I'm here to help. In this article, we'll explore some essential lab tests that can provide valuable insights into what might be causing your kids’ digestive issues.

Common Lab Tests for Pediatric Constipation:

The following are some of the essential lab tests we use to determine your little one’s digestive issues:

  • Food Sensitivity Panel
  • Comprehensive Stool Analysis
  • Celiac Panel
  • Celiac Panel
  • Thyroid Tests
  • Blood Lead

Food Sensitivity Panel

When it comes to unraveling the reasons behind your kid’s constipation, one of the first steps we take is a Food Sensitivity Panel. This test helps identify specific antibodies (IgG and IgA) that may indicate any food sensitivities your little one might have. Dairy sensitivity, for instance, is a common trigger for constipation in some kids [1]. Understanding these sensitivities allows us to customize a diet that promotes better digestion. Parents should consider these tests for their kids to identify food sensitivities if they notice the following common symptoms:

  • Reactions to certain foods, such as hives, itching, or eczema
  • Persistent bloating
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Unexplained digestive discomfort

Comprehensive Stool Analysis

A Comprehensive Stool Analysis is a crucial test to assess your kid’s gut health. It provides valuable information about any imbalances in bacteria and yeast that might contribute to constipation [2]. Addressing these imbalances can lead to improved bowel movements and overall gut well-being. Consider a stool analysis if your kiddos experience the following symptoms:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Recurring gastrointestinal issues

A stool analysis can help detect imbalances in gut bacteria and unwanted yeast that might be affecting their digestive health.

Begin Health Expert Tip:

A great way to start is with the Kiddo Poop Test, an at-home gut health test created to detect any gut imbalances with a personalized gut health report.

Celiac Panel

If you've ever worried about your kid having celiac disease (an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat), a Celiac Panel is a valuable diagnostic tool. This test examines specific antibodies and genetic markers associated with celiac disease [3,4]. Untreated celiac disease can cause constipation and other digestive issues, making it essential to rule out this condition and ensure a healthy gut for your little one. If your kid shows the following symptoms below, parents should consider the celiac panel to check for potential celiac disease, especially if there's a family history of the condition:

  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is an important consideration for kids experiencing chronic constipation. SIBO occurs when there's an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine [5]. This can disrupt digestion and contribute to constipation. Thankfully, we can conduct tests to diagnose SIBO and develop an effective plan to address it. SIBO testing helps identify excess bacteria in the small intestine that can contribute to their symptoms. Your little ones should consider SIBO testing if they have the following symptoms, particularly if previous treatments have been ineffective:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Excessive gas

While the most common method for SIBO testing is the breath test, parents should consider the age of their kids to determine the proper method. Younger kids under the age of 8 years old might find it challenging to perform the breath test effectively, due to their ability to blow into the testing device consistently.

In such cases, alternative methods like blood tests or stool tests may be explored under the guidance of a healthcare professional experienced in pediatric SIBO testing. These alternative methods can also help determine the presence of excess bacteria in the small intestine and provide valuable insights into your kid’s digestive health.

Thyroid Tests

Believe it or not, an underactive thyroid can sometimes be a culprit in your kids’ constipation. Thyroid Tests can help us determine if the thyroid is affecting their tummy troubles [6]. If any issues are identified, we can take appropriate measures to improve your little one’s condition.

When children exhibit symptoms like constipation, fatigue, weight gain, and sluggishness, parents should consider thyroid tests to rule out hypothyroidism, a condition that can impact bowel movements and overall energy levels.

Begin Health Expert Tip:

Growing Up Prebiotics have been approved by the Hormone University as an Endocrine Disruptor Free product, which means they were reviewed by a panel of toxicologists, environmental health scientists, and medical professionals to ensure this guarantee.

Levels of Lead in Blood

While it may come as a surprise, elevated blood lead levels have been associated with constipation in kids [7]. It's essential to consider all potential factors that might impact your little one’s digestive health, including environmental ones. Elevated lead levels can contribute to digestive issues and developmental concerns. Consider testing your kid’s blood lead levels if the following apply:

  • Kids who live in older homes
  • Kids who have been exposed to lead-based paint
  • Kids who exhibit symptoms like constipation, stomach pain, or developmental delays

How to Ask Your Kid’s Pediatrician for These Lab Tests

As parents, advocating for your kid’s health is essential. When discussing these tests with your pediatrician or healthcare practitioner, consider these tips to ensure a productive conversation:

  • Open Communication: Explain your child's symptoms and concerns clearly. Be open to discussing the possibility of these tests and their relevance to your child's condition.

  • Informed Inquiry:Politely ask your pediatrician about the suitability of each test based on your little one’s symptoms. Mention if you've noticed any specific patterns or changes that might warrant these tests.

  • Inquire about insurance coverage for these tests.While coverage varies, some of these tests, especially those related to specific medical concerns, might be covered under your insurance plan. However, the food sensitivity panel and comprehensive stool analysis are rarely covered by insurance and typically need to be ordered by a holistic practitioner, such as a Naturopathic Doctor.

Summary:By exploring these essential lab tests, we can gain valuable insights into the factors contributing to your kid’s experience with constipation or other health challenges. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop targeted and effective strategies to promote better digestive and overall health.!

Dr. Jordi

I am a Pediatric Naturopathic Medical Doctor based in San Diego, CA, specializing in pediatric and preconception care with a proactive approach to prevent future diseases and ensure proper development. I firmly believe in establishing strong foundations for health, as they play a pivotal role in shaping a child's path towards a healthy future. Find more information on my website: