Chronic functional constipation (CFC) may be difficult to recognise and information regarding its long term prognosis is scarce. The records of 244 children with CFC, aged 0-18 years, were analysed for symptoms at presentation and results of treatment, and long term outcome was evaluated by means of a telephone interview in 137 patients discharged for more than one year. The patients presented with a great variety of symptoms, only 22% having infrequent defecation of increased consistency, another 22% having an obviously normal defecation pattern. The mean duration of treatment was 13 months. At the time of discharge, 69% of the patients still used laxatives. At a median of four years after discharge, 66% of the children were free of symptoms and without medication, 39% having experienced a recurrence. It is concluded that CFC may be difficult to recognise and can be alleviated by an intensive laxative regimen. Recurrence of symptoms is common, but the long term prognosis is good in most patients.
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