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Parental child-rearing attitudes are associated with functional constipation in childhood
  1. Marieke van Dijk1,
  2. Giel-Jan de Vries,
  3. Bob F Last1,3,
  4. Marc A Benninga2,
  5. Martha A Grootenhuis1
  1. 1Psychosocial Department, Emma Children's Hospital/Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Emma Children's Hospital/Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Developmental Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Marieke van Dijk, Psychosocial Department and Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Emma Children's Hospital, Academic Medical Centre, Room A3-241, PO Box 22700, Amsterdam 1100 DE, The Netherlands; m.vandijk{at}amc.uva.nl

Abstract

Objective Parenting factors are assumed to play a role in the development and maintenance of childhood constipation. However, knowledge about the association between parenting factors and childhood constipation is limited. This study investigates the association between parental child-rearing attitudes and prominent symptoms of functional constipation and assesses the strength of this association.

Design Cross-sectional data of 133 constipated children and their parents were collected.

Setting The gastrointestinal outpatient clinic at the Emma Children's Hospital in the Netherlands.

Patients Children with functional constipation aged 4–18 years referred by general practitioners, school doctors and paediatricians.

Main outcome measures Parental child-rearing attitudes were assessed by the Amsterdam version of the Parental Attitude Research Instrument (A-PARI). Symptoms of constipation in the child were assessed by a standardised interview. Negative binomial and logistic regression models were used to test the association between child-rearing attitudes and constipation symptoms.

Results Parental child-rearing attitudes are associated with defecation and faecal incontinence frequency. Higher and lower scores on the autonomy attitude scale were associated with decreased defecation frequency and increased faecal incontinence. High scores on the overprotection and self-pity attitude scales were associated with increased faecal incontinence. More and stronger associations were found for children aged ≥6 years than for younger children.

Conclusions Parental child-rearing attitudes are associated with functional constipation in children. Any parenting issues should be addressed during treatment of children with constipation. Referral to mental health services is needed when parenting difficulties hinder treatment or when the parent–child relationship is at risk.

Trial registration number ISRCTN2518556.

  • Gastroenterology
  • Child Psychology

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