Background/aim of study Constipation is a common symptom, and accounts for a large percentage of paediatric clinic appointments. We have previously found that carriage of mutations in the CFTR gene is associated with constipation. In this study weeks "To what extent are constipation symptoms heritable in general?"
Methods Parents of children attending the constipation clinic were asked to fill in a questionnaire about bowel habit and family history. Answers were compared with a control group.
Main results Parents of constipated children are no more likely to admit to constipation than control parents, but do have a significantly reduced stool frequency. 50% of control parents admit to passing stool at least once a day compared to 14% of constipation clinic parents (p = 0.001). Of those study group parents who do give a history of constipation, two thirds say it dates back to childhood or infancy. There is slightly more rectal bleeding, dietary modification, and abdominal pain and bloating in the constipation group parents, although these symptoms do not reach statistical significance.
In the family history 25% of siblings are also constipated. 15% of families have at least one individual with autism spectrum disorder, and 45% have a family history of allergic problems. 25% have a history of colon cancer in the extended family.
Conclusion Our results support the conclusion that constipation tendency is heritable. There does seem to be a link with irritable bowel syndrome, atopic tendency, autism spectrum disorders, and possibly with colon cancer.