On Monday 13th April ERIC launched a national campaign called ‘Let’s Talk About Poo’ to raise awareness of childhood constipation among parents of 2-4 year-olds and health and education professionals working with this age group. The campaign is supported by children’s TV presenter and paediatrician Dr Ranj Singh.

Constipation is most common in toddlers and pre-school age children; it is important to tackle it at this early stage to prevent it becoming chronic and having a long-term impact on children’s health and wellbeing.

The campaign features an interactive game about poo. The aim of the game is to make children more comfortable talking about poo and poo problems. ERIC’s resources about understanding and maintaining healthy bowels are available to download from the site, as well as up to date research and useful information for parents and professionals about managing and treating childhood constipation.

The earlier the signs and symptoms of childhood constipation are recognised the easier it is to resolve and to avoid it becoming chronic. According to NICE guidelines (1), many parents don’t recognise the signs and symptoms of constipation and few relate it to the presence of soiling. ERIC’s campaign will raise awareness of children’s poo problems and improve understanding of constipation to ensure it is recognised and treated at the earliest possible stage.

Dr Ranj said: "Constipation can be a major problem in childhood, and if not treated properly, can lead to issues in adulthood too. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult subject for both parents and children, but the good news is that it's relatively straight forward to sort out. It doesn't have to be embarrassing and no-one should suffer unnecessarily - we need to get used to talking about it!"

ERIC’s CEO David Derbyshire said: "We’ve launched the Let’s Talk About Poo campaign to help parents recognise the early signs of a poo problem and to seek help as soon as possible. Health and education professionals will benefit from information on the new website about how to keep the bowels healthy and what to do when poo problems persist. I hope that through raising awareness of this common but often misunderstood problem, we will be able to prevent children from suffering unnecessarily from the consequences of constipation.”

Notes:
Up to 30% of children suffer with constipation and it becomes chronic in more than one in three cases (1).

There are 13,000 hospital admissions for childhood constipation in England each year (2), which equates to around 35 children being admitted to hospital every day.

The effects of unrecognised or inadequately treated constipation in children can include significant abdominal pain, faecal incontinence, appetite suppression and low self-esteem. The long-term impact for the whole family can include social isolation, disruption to family life and feelings of frustration and despair.

The ‘Let’s talk about Poo’ campaign is funded through a grant by Norgine Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

References:

Constipation in children and young people: Diagnosis and management of idiopathic childhood constipation in primary and secondary care. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines CG99, 2010, (http://publications.nice.org.uk/constipation-in-children-and-young-people-cg99)

Inpatient data from hospital episode statistics for England in 2012/13 show that there were 13,135 finished consultant episodes for constipation in children and young people aged under 18 years, of which 79% were emergency admissions.