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Acta Paediatr. 2006 May;95(5):573-80.

Epidemiological study of constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms in 8000 children.

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Paediatric Department, Orebro University Hospital, Sweden.



Adult studies indicate that gastrointestinal symptoms vary with sex and socioeconomic status. We examined socioeconomic factors, infant sex, smoking and gastrointestinal symptoms, especially constipation, in 2.5 year-old children.


This study was part of a prospective cohort study of children born 01.10.97-01.10.99 (the ABIS study; All Babies in Southeast Sweden). Socioeconomic factors, infant sex, smoking were analyzed vs. constipation, diarrhoea, anorexia, abdominal pain, meteorism and vomiting using logistic regression. All data were obtained through questionnaires distributed at infant birth, at 1 and 2.5 years of age.


Out of 8341 children, 539 (6.5%) suffered from constipation. In a backward stepwise regression analysis (AOR; and 95% CI AOR = are given within brackets), constipation correlated with low maternal education (1.60; 1.08-2.35), female sex (1.52; 1.23-1.85), living in a large community with >3000 inhabitants (1.35; 1.09-1.64) and having no older siblings (1.28; 1.04-1.59). Smoking during pregnancy was linked to diarrhoea (multivariate analysis: 1.76; 1.02-3.02), anorexia (univariate analysis: 1.43; 1.09-1.87) and meteorism (univariate analysis: 1.58; 1.11-2.27). Adjusting for confounders, paracetamol use was linked to a five-fold increased risk of anorexia (5.12; 1.26-20.70).


This study indicates that socioeconomic status, infant sex and parental smoking, are associated with gastrointestinal symptoms in children.

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