Kids Constipated? Try This New Solution.
If You're Trying to Help Your Constipated Kid — You Should Check This Out
By Beau Berman
Constipation in kids is frustrating for the kid suffering and challenging for the adult who may feel like they cannot help. But the good news is that there are some new ways to prime your child for more regular bowel movements.
We delved into the latest scientific papers to look at the actual research on pediatric constipation to derive some fresh insights.
Some key takeaways?
The Latest Research on Pediatric Constipation
- Pharmaceuticals are commonly used for treating constipation, but parents and patients show reluctance or find dissatisfaction with available medications at times.1
- Patients are often interested in utilizing nutraceutical supplements and botanicals available over the counter to treat their constipation.1
- Prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber are safe and are without significant side effects.1
- Fiber supplements such as glucomannan, green banana mass, cacao husk, and various fiber blends have emerging evidence in children. Still, evidence for psyllium, cellulose, and flaxseed only has supportive studies in adults.1
- Abdominal massage, reflexology, acupuncture, and transcutaneous nerve stimulation show promise in the field of pediatric constipation, but data is still in the process of the accumulation regarding efficacy.1
The infrequent passage of hard stools with pain and difficulty — aka — one of the most common problems among children.2
Many children, especially younger ages, are referred to specialists because of severe constipation. "Fecal incontinence" is almost always associated with constipation, which can lead to a severe loss of self-esteem among kids.
These situations can often affect the child's social life and family, so they should not be taken lightly.2
According to leading researchers, the extent and significance of childhood constipation are often underestimated by doctors.
As of 2011, chronic constipation with fecal incontinence accounted for only 3% of referrals to pediatric clinics, but the reality is that these are two significant problems for parents.
Parents can sometimes become aggressive or threatening when their child has fecal incontinence, leading to fear among children over something they do not have much control over.2
It used to be believed that the problem was caused by underlying psychological issues. Still, now more commonly, it's known that the behavior abnormalities result from fecal incontinence, not the cause of the problem.2
STAGES WHEN CHILDHOOD CONSTIPATION STRIKES
Generally, there are three stages when children might get constipated:
- When they are infants beginning a switch from formula to solid foods
- When they are toddlers and toilet training is just starting
- When they are older, close to the period when they are starting school
The tricky part — is that your kids might not always tell you they're constipated — you might have to catch on for yourself, so you can step in and help.
CONSTIPATION INDICATORS TO LOOK OUT FOR
- Stomach pain
- Less than three bowel movements per week for children
- Trying to hold in their stools — indicators include making faces, crossing legs, twisting their body
- Hard and/or dry stools that don't pass quickly
- Stains and small stool marks on your child's undergarments
WHAT CAUSES CONSTIPATION?
Constipation can begin for many reasons. A straightforward explanation is that the child is just withholding — too busy playing or engaged with what they're doing at the moment — to stop everything and go to the bathroom. As adults, we recognize the necessity of relieving ourselves, but children might not yet have that understanding or sensibility.
They also might be afraid, embarrassed, or grossed out by public restrooms. Another possibility is that your child is wary of the next painful bowel movement or having issues with potty training.
Yet another culprit could be low fiber in your child's diet. Fiber keeps the bowels running smoothly, but many kids simply do not receive enough fruits and vegetables.
Prebiotic fiber is crucial, yet it is often under-consumed. This is a "low-hanging fruit" solution, so it's a great place to start!
Constipation can also be caused by a lack of fluids in your child's system. Therefore, it is vital that your child drinks enough water and gets other liquids in their system to help the fiber make its way through their digestive system.
Certain medicines could also create the problem or contribute to it, including pain medications and antacids, which treat constipation in children.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO FIX THEIR CHILD'S CONSTIPATION?
There are some at-home remedies you can try before you call up the doctor or rush over to your neighborhood Urgent Care facility:
- Get your child more water, stat! Most kids require three to four glasses of water per day.
- Add fiber into your child's diet – via fruits, vegetables, or supplements.
- Limit intake of fast food and junk food. These poor nutritional choices can slow down digestion and wreak havoc on bacteria in the microbiome.
- Reduce consumption of soda and tea. They have caffeine, which can lead to digestive upset.
- Live the "habit lifestyle" and get your child onto the same routine — by having them try to poop twice each day for 10 minutes each session.
- Remember that your child may feel guilt or shame and be mortified about talking about this subject with you. Keep that in mind and be sensitive to these natural feelings.
WHAT TO DO IF NONE OF THAT HELPS YOUR CHILD OVERCOME CONSTIPATION
Should none of the remedies above work, consider asking your child's pediatrician about the possibility of using a mild, kid-friendly laxative or stool softener.
This could help get things rolling once again and provide a window of opportunity to establish new protocols, habits, and health practices.
Also, don't forget that what happens in the bathroom usually starts in the kitchen — meaning that it's your child's dietary situation that is often reflected when it comes to their toilet time.
So be mindful of that and devise ways to get them eating fruits and vegetables.
Substitute fruit for candy or dessert.
Substitute vegetables for mac & cheese or rice.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SIDE OF KIDS' CONSTIPATION
In one study — children with functional constipation were assigned to either 12 visits undergoing behavioral therapy or 12 visits with a conventional treatment methodology.
Defecation frequency was higher among the conventionally treated group. Still, after the 12 visits, overall success rates did not differ between the traditional treatment and behavioral therapy groups, nor did they differ at six-month follow-up examinations.
The study concluded that "behavioral therapy with laxatives has no advantage over conventional treatment treating childhood constipation. However, when behavior problems are present, behavioral therapy or referral to mental health services should be considered." 3
That said, there is evidence that parents' practices in raising their children and parental attitudes could actually be contributing factors when kids have chronic constipation issues. A 2014 study conducted in The Netherlands found that stool-withholding and behavior problems were exacerbated by parent-child interactions. The study was detailed in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.4
The study's authors concluded that when treating kids with repeated episodes of constipation, doctors should address parenting issues and communicate that parents may be contributing to the chronicity of the condition in their own child.
The children in the study were all deemed to have "functional constipation," which means it did not seem to have an underlying physical or medical cause.
The parents who brought the children to the clinic were asked to fill out a questionnaire about childrearing, and the questions probed how much autonomy parents allowed their children.
Another segment of the survey measured parental self-pity concerning frustration and irritability caused by raising the child.
The researchers found that children of parents who had a high self-pity score had a higher frequency of fecal incontinence, with more potent effects noted among boys and children over age six.4
They were careful to note that this does not prove that parents are to blame for their child's chronic constipation.
Still, they indicated that it shows parents may unintentionally perpetuate chronic constipation in their child.
According to the study, allowing children to have a medium level of autonomy resulted in the best outcomes.
The study's authors noted that up to 30 percent of children in western countries experience constipation and 90 to 95 percent "of constipation in childhood is functional, occurring without an organic cause," and they stated that the current treatments options (as of 2014) are limited to laxatives.4
THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER WAY TO CURB CHILDHOOD CONSTIPATIONWhat should parents do if they want to avoid giving their child laxatives and have already tried to increase their child's fluid and fiber intake?
The answer may lie in something the child had when they were an infant: human milk.
Breast milk contains complex sugar molecules called oligosaccharides — specifically, these powerful carbohydrates are called "Human Milk Oligosaccharides," and they are one part of breast milk, in addition to fat, lactose, and protein.
More than 100 years of research has proven that these Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) literally build the infant's gut lining, immune system, and brain development from scratch by strategically fortifying and populating the infant's gut microbiome with the proper types of bacteria for healthy outcomes.
For decades, HMOs could only be obtained by consuming human milk.
But within the last decade or so, researchers have figured out how to replicate HMOs without deriving them from human milk.
This new generation of HMOs is sometimes called HiMOs (Human Identical Milk Oligosaccharides) because they are molecularly identical to the HMO you find in human milk. Yet, they do not come from human milk!
So how are these new HMOs obtained?
There are multiple ways to do it, but they are commonly fermented from specific bacterial strains crafted in a lab or fermented from purified lactose from bovine milk.
Either way, the resulting HMO is highly purified, only has very trace (minimal) amounts of lactose remaining, and is molecularly identical to the HMO in human milk.
The best part of this development is that the new HMO carries virtually the same benefits as the traditional HMO, straight from human milk!
Major companies began placing these new HMOs into baby formula circa 2017 and touting the benefits to infant brain, gut, and immune health.
By 2019, two Cornell University food scientists noticed no products on the market containing these new HMOs designed for adults or children (other than babies).
So they launched their startup, Layer Origin Nutrition, to fill the gap and provide high-purity HMO for anyone who wanted the benefits it could provide.
The company first established a pure HMO product in capsule form in 2020 and then launched a fast-absorbing pure HMO powder for adults later that year.
These products both contain the most popular HMO in the world, which is called 2’-Fucosyllactose.
It's popular because it is the most abundant HMO found in human milk. The reality is that there are somewhere around 100-200 different types of HMO subsets, but only a few are usually found in high concentrations in human milk.
Only a handful of the 200 types of HMO make up the majority of the HMO content you find within a typical mother.
It's kind of like the Pareto Principle, aka 80/20 principle.
In 2021, Layer Origin Nutrition launched a kids HMO product called PureHMO Kids Powder. This prebiotic combines two types of HMOs in one powder: 2’-FL (2’-Fucocyllactose) and LNnT (Lacto-N-neotetraose).5
The kids' HMO powder may very well be a parent's best friend when it comes to ridding their child of constipation.
HMO is not a band-aid solution that temporarily stops the problem, only to return again soon.
On the contrary, HMO attacks the issue at a root level, fundamentally altering the child's gut bacteria by enabling the microbiome to grow and produce more beneficial bacteria that are proven to help positively modulate the gut.
This modulation often leads to less stomach pain, less constipation, less gas, less bloating, and less diarrhea. It almost sounds too good to be true!
Layer Origin Nutrition has also announced a SuperHMO™ Prebiotic for kids in the form of chews, making it easier for some kids to take the product regularly.
Layer Origin Nutrition's HMO products are all formulated by Ivy-League trained scientists who understand the intricacies of the ingredients.
Their HMO is 98% pure and bio-identical to the HMO found in human milk.
It has been tested and certified as safe by the supplier, and all Layer Origin Nutrition products are third-party lab tested before they are placed on the market.
PureHMO® for Kids Powder is designed to lead to much healthier and happier outcomes for both kids and parents:
- Happy Tummies — HMO helps build a healthy digestive system
- Brain Development — HMO provides nutrients for cognitive development and function
- Feeds Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut — HMO is prebiotic, acting as the food for probiotic bacteria
- Immune Health — HMO defends against harmful germs directly
So far, parental reviews are outstanding for PureHMO® for Kids Powder.
For example, Layer Origin Nutrition customer Snezhanka Ataya writes:
"The stuff is amazing. My kiddo with autism has been on it for 3 weeks now and is already seeing improvements in awareness, behavior, and speech. Love it."
The PureHMO® for Kids Powder is odorless and tasteless, so parents can easily add it to their kids' food or juice, water, or milk.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are multiple strategies parents should try if their child is faced with chronic constipation, including the addition of extra fluids, vegetables, fruits, and patterned pooping sessions.
But the latest and most effective method for fixing the core issue is with a prebiotic supplement, such as HMO (human milk oligosaccharide).
HMO is truly parents' #1 ally in the riddance of childhood constipation because it is based on scientific research, clinically proven, and designed for toddlers and kids.
PureHMO® for Kids Powder is a high-quality, gentle blend of HMOs (2’-FL and LNnT) created to delicately nourish the gut microbiome of growing toddlers and kids.
It can help provide food for good gut bacteria, which often leads to softer stools, regularity, and greater digestive comfort.
Kids may come to view HMO as a "poop vitamin" that simply helps them go about their daily life in a much healthier and happier way.
Nobody likes to sit on the toilet and strain — regardless of age — so kids and parents alike may gravitate towards HMO as a significant ally in making their lives easier.
Parents across the world can look to HMO as a way to spark "tummy magic" and enable their children to go to the bathroom multiple times per day with ease.
It's a "friendly" form of fiber that can be taken at home or on the go.
The truth is that 95% of kids and even adults do not get the recommended amount of fiber each day.
PureHMO® for Kids Powder is a great way to supplement extra fiber by mixing it into any drink, stirring it into yogurt or baby food, or pouring it right into mashed-up superfoods like avocados.
Even if you add PureHMO® powder into a water bottle, you shouldn't notice any difference in the thickness or texture of the water.
The immune system is housed mainly in the gut, where 70% of it is controlled and directed.
The best way to fortify the immune system is to reinforce the gut's beneficial bacteria and solidify the gut lining.
For a long time, HMOs were only available to children in "the breastfeeding years" via human milk or baby formula containing HMO.
But now, HMO is being "democratized" as supplements specific for toddlers and kids are available.
Even adults can now take HMO to bolster their own immune system and gut health.
The HMO found in all Layer Origin Nutrition products is supported by evidence in clinical intervention studies in infants that demonstrated benefits of support for digestive health, softer stools, and gut comfort.
Why not foster your child's intestinal gut bacteria to lay the groundwork for a more resilient microbiome?