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Dietary treatments for childhood constipation: efficacy of dietary fiber and whole grains

Authors


  • Affiliations: ML Stewart is with the Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. NM Schroeder is with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Correspondence: ML Stewart, Department of Human Nutrition, Food, and Animal Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1955 East-West Road, AgSci 216, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA. E-mail: mstew@hawaii.edu. Phone: +1-808-956-9114.

Abstract

Constipation in children is defined on the basis of several clusters of symptoms, and these symptoms are likely to persist into adulthood. The aim of this review article is to summarize the current literature on the use of dietary fiber and whole grains as treatments for childhood constipation. Current recommendations for fiber intake in children vary substantially among organizations, suggesting that the function of fiber in children is not fully understood. Additionally, no formal definition of “whole grain” exists, which further complicates the interpretation of the literature. Few randomized controlled trials have examined the effect of dietary fiber supplementation in children with constipation. Currently, no randomized controlled trials have investigated the efficacy of whole grains in treating childhood constipation. This is an area that warrants further attention. Increasing the intake of dietary fiber and/or whole grain has the potential to relieve childhood constipation; however, additional randomized controlled trials are necessary to make a formal recommendation.

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