NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The prevalence of allergies among children with chronic constipation is not significantly different from that of the general population -- and an allergy to cow's milk does not seem to be involved, researchers report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
"In several studies, chronic constipation in children has been reported as a clinical manifestation of cow's milk allergy," Dr. Annamaria Staiano, of the University of Naples, Italy, and colleagues write. Allergic proctitis - an allergic reaction causing inflammation of the rectum, which can be accompanied by a frequent urge to defecate, bloody stools and other symptoms -- has been suspected, but the response to eliminating cow's milk protein from the diet has been variable.
In the current study, the researchers assessed the prevalence of chronic constipation in 5,113 randomly selected children who were 6 months to 6 years of age.
Sixty-nine children with chronic constipation and 69 children who served as a comparison group (controls) were tested for allergies by specific serum IgE tests or skin prick tests. A family history of allergy was reported in 18 constipated children (26 percent) and 15 controls (21.7 percent).
Overall, 12 constipated children (17.3 percent) and 13 controls (18.8 percent) were diagnosed with an allergy.
Eleven of the 69 constipated subjects did not respond to treatment and were put on a diet without cow's milk protein for 30 days, Staiano and colleagues explain. "None of these 11 patients had any significant improvement in their constipation, as measured by stool frequency and consistency."
The investigators conclude that there is no difference in the prevalence of allergy in children with or without chronic constipation, and that chronic constipation "is not associated with cow's milk allergy in the general pediatric population."
SOURCE: Archives of Disease in Childhood, December 2008.