An Update of Pharmacological Management in Children with Functional Constipation

Anna de Geus, Ilan J. N. Koppen, Robert B. Flint, Marc A. Benninga, Merit M. Tabbers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Functional constipation is a common problem in childhood worldwide and has a great impact on social, physical, and emotional functioning of affected children and their caregivers. It is a clinical diagnosis based on the Rome IV criteria. Non-pharmacological treatment involves education, demystification, lifestyle advice, and toilet training. Pharmacological treatment consists of disimpaction, maintenance treatment, and eventually weaning if possible. Polyethylene glycol is considered as the first choice of laxative for both disimpaction and maintenance treatment. Different osmotic laxatives, stimulant laxatives, lubricants, and enemas are available as alternative pharmacological treatment options. Novel drugs are emerging but evidence to support the widespread application of these drugs in the pediatric population is often lacking and more high-quality research is needed in this field. If children remain symptomatic despite optimal pharmacological treatment, botulinum toxin injections in the anal sphincter can be considered as an alternative, more invasive treatment option. This review provides an update on currently available literature concerning the pharmacologic treatment of functional constipation in children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-358
Number of pages16
JournalPediatric Drugs
Issue number3
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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