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Background: Chronic abdominal pain is one of the most common presenting complaints to primary care providers and paediatricians. Studies in developed countries have shown that constipation is one of the most common diagnoses in children presenting with chronic abdominal pain.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of constipation in children 4-13 years presenting with chronic abdominal pain and to describe the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of children with constipation at Kenyatta National Hospital.
Design: A cross-sectional hospital based study.
Setting: Paediatric Gastroenterology Clinic, Kenyatta National Hospital.
Subjects: children aged 4 to 13 years attending the paediatric gastroenterology clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital between July to December 2014.
Results: A total of 84 children with chronic abdominal pain were seen, 47 (55.95%) were girls and the median age was nine years. The prevalence of constipation in children with chronic abdominal pain with two or more Rome III criteria was 69 out of 84 (82%, 95%CI: 72%95%), out of which there were 37(53.62%) females and 32(46.3%) males. The difference among the boys and girls was not statistically significant. Pharmacological management was more commonly used than non-pharmacological management. The most common medication given to children with constipation was lactulose given to 63 (91.3%) of the children. The non-pharmacological management of constipation was education and dietary advice 53(76.8%), while behaviour change advice was given to 28 (40.6 %).
Conclusion: The prevalence of constipation in children with chronic abdominal pain was 82%. Pharmacological management was more commonly used than non pharmacological.