The frequency of constipation in children with nocturnal enuresis: A comparison with parental reporting

Kathleen H. McGrath, Patrina H.Y. Caldwell*, Michael P. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To identify the prevalence of constipation in children with nocturnal enuresis presenting to a tertiary paediatric outpatient service and to assess parental and clinician recognition of constipation. Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study of children with nocturnal enuresis at presentation to a continence service. Data relating to the child's bowel habits, pattern of enuresis and other history items were obtained from parental questionnaires and paediatrician assessments. Presence and severity of constipation was assessed independently by parents and clinicians. Kappa was used to compare agreement between parental reporting and clinician assessment of constipation. Results: Of the 277 participants aged 4.8-17.5 years (median 8.6 years), 36.1% (n = 95) were identified as constipated by the clinician-based scoring method ('Constipation Score') compared with 14.1% from parental reporting (Kappa = 0.155, P = 0.003). Despite the poor overall recognition of constipation by parents, parental and clinician assessment of frequency of bowel motions (Kappa = 0.804) and soiling (Kappa = 0.384) were similar. Major factors influencing parental reporting of constipation were frequency of bowel motions and soiling with less emphasis on straining and stool consistency. Conclusions: Prevalence of constipation was high among children with nocturnal enuresis as assessed by clinicians despite poor identification by parents. This may limit optimal diagnosis and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastroenterology
  • General paediatrics
  • Nephrology/renal
  • Urology/gynaecology


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