What Can I Give My Constipated 6 Month Old Baby Treating Constipation in Children

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Treating Constipation in Children

This article concludes my overview of constipation in children. To get a better perspective of the subject, I refer you to my two previous articles entitled, ‘Constipation in newborn babies,’ and ‘Constipation in children: causes, symptoms, signs and other considerations.’

In general

When a doctor encounters a child with constipation, they narrow their assessment to either prescribing medication or recommending a natural remedy. The age of the child, the period of onset and the severity of the constipation are taken into account to make decisions. Is there an underlying disease? If a clinician suspects an underlying disease, he or she is obligated to look for and treat such causes.

Fortunately, in most children with constipation there is no serious underlying disease, so a doctor tries to get the child to achieve regular bowel movements.

Some children may need a longer treatment time, involving multiple medical specialties and even behavioral therapists, to resolve their constipation problems. Seeking expert opinion from trusted clinicians is very important to persist with prolonged management in certain children.

What is presented here is a simplification of what could be a very complex medical issue.

My favorite food list to fight constipation

For babies who are already six months old and on solid food, and for babies under the age of one year, I tend to suggest first that parents add fruit juice or prune juice to the diet. Consume two to four ounces of 100 percent apple or pineapple juice divided into several small drinks a day. Stop the extra juice when the baby moves his bowels; overtreating the baby leads to diarrhea.

Beans, vegetables, prunes and other whole fruits are my favorite foods to combat constipation in older children. My usual “limit don’t eat” list includes chips, processed foods, pizza crust, cheese, french fries, fried plantains, and french toast.

Medical ways to treat constipation

I reserve direct stimulation and a limited trial of glycerine suppository for newborn babies and those who are under six months and not yet on solid foods.

Older children and teenagers often require medication in addition to dietary counseling to treat their constipation. And because constipation in older children may have persisted for weeks or even months, treatment may need to take a long time to achieve adequate daily bowel movements.

There are many medications available to treat constipation, some of which do not require a prescription from a licensed physician. When indicated, clinicians recommend treatment based on their experience and familiarity with a particular medication.

Drug options and availability also differ, depending on where an individual lives and in which country their doctor resides. Side effects, including allergies and life-threatening reactions, can arise from the use of any medication, so be very careful while your child is on medication. If in doubt, stop the treatment and call for immediate expert help.

Below are some of the popular medications available to treat constipation in children in the United States.

Six popular medicines used by pediatricians to treat constipation in children

Miralax: Although this powdered medicine has not been officially approved by the FDA-Food and Drug Administration-USA for use in children, it continues to gain popularity among clinicians. Some doctors say they have even used it in children as young as six months. I do use it on older children. It is worth noting that several parents have reported irritability, hostility and mood swings in their children during the period they were on Miralax.

Lactulose: This medicine, which contains sugars, lactose and galactose, is a very reasonable choice when treating constipation in children, unless the child suffers from diabetes or a genetic disorder called galactosemia, in which the body does not have the ability to treat galactose. Details about dosage and side effects can be found on the medication labels. I did not find Lactulose displayed on the shelf in the pharmacies I visited. A clinician’s guidance is necessary.

Senna: To my surprise, this is a very popular laxative, perhaps because it is an extract from the Senna plant. There are even chocolate formulations in the pharmacies. In a liquid formulation carried by a hospital-based pharmacy, one teaspoon contains 8.8 mg of senna. At this concentration, children who are from two to six years old can take half a teaspoon at night. I intend to incorporate Senna liquid into my practice for the treatment of constipation. However, a warning: do not use Senna for more than a week. Like Lactulose, Senna liquids were not displayed on the shelves of pharmacies.

Mineral oil: A couple of parents had their children on mineral oil when they visited my practice. Like many pediatricians, I have not warmed to the use of mineral oil as a treatment for constipation in children because of the associated risks of aspiration pneumonia, as well as its tendency to interfere with absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. There is a lot of mineral oil shown on the shelves of pharmacies.

Milk of magnesia: This medicine, which is both an antacid and a laxative, is another reasonable choice for treating children with constipation. It is available in pharmacies without a prescription. One to three teaspoons per day of the 400mg/tsp concentration is all a child needs between the ages of two and five. Like mineral oil, milk of magnesia is abundant on drugstore shelves. Its magnesium content is a disadvantage, especially in people with poorly functioning kidneys.

Colace —Docusate Sodium: Colace comes in different formulas of capsules, tablets, syrup, liquid and direct enema. Oral treatment can take a long time to work, say one to three days, so be patient with this laxative. One more thing about Colace: the liquid doesn’t taste good, so you may need to mix it with juice or formula. I like to prescribe the 60mg/15ml syrup formula, starting with half a teaspoon and increasing to one teaspoon daily, to treat short episodes of constipation in infants and children.

The above article is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease. Take your child to a pediatrician if you are concerned that he or she is constipated.

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