The following is a summary of “Prevalence of Bowel and Bladder Function During Early Childhood: A Population-Based Study,” published in the July 2023 issue of Pediatrics by Verkuijl, et al.
For a cross-sectional, population-based study, researchers sought to assess bowel and bladder function in children aged 1 month to 7 years in the general Dutch population. Secondly, they aimed to identify demographic factors associated with the presence of bowel and bladder dysfunction, as well as their coexistence.
Parents/caregivers of children aged 1 month to 7 years participated in the study and completed the Early Pediatric Groningen Defecation and Fecal Continence questionnaire. The study used validated scoring systems, including the Rome IV criteria, to assess different bowel and bladder function parameters.
The study population consisted of 791 children with a mean age of 3.9 ± 2.2 years. On average, parents/caregivers considered their children fully toilet-trained by 5.1 ± 1.5 years. Among toilet-trained children, the prevalence of fecal incontinence was 12%. The overall prevalence of constipation was 14%, with consistent probability and severity across all ages. Significant associations were found between fecal incontinence and constipation (odds ratio (OR) = 3.88, 95% CI: 2.06–7.30), fecal incontinence and urinary incontinence (OR = 5.26, 95% CI: 2.78–9.98), and constipation and urinary incontinence (OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.24–3.42).
Although most children achieve full toilet training by age 5, fecal incontinence is common. Constipation is prevalent in infants, toddlers, and older children. Fecal incontinence and constipation often coexist and are frequently accompanied by urinary incontinence. Raising awareness of bowel and bladder dysfunction in infants, toddlers, and young children is crucial to prevent these issues from persisting into older ages.