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Contribution of Sensory Processing to Chronic Constipation in Preschool Children

Little, L. M.; Benton, K.; Manuel-Rubio, M.; Saps, M.; Fishbein, M.

J Pediatr. 2019 Apr 23; 210:141-145

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess differences in sensory processing patterns between children with chronic constipation compared with a matched normative sample as well as to examine the extent to which specific sensory processing patterns and modality scores predicted atypical toileting behaviors. STUDY DESIGN: We used a cross-sectional comparative design to evaluate differences between children age 3 and 5 years old with constipation (n = 66) and those in a matched control sample (n = 66). We also examined the contribution of sensory processing patterns to atypical toileting behavior in the clinical sample. RESULTS: Children with chronic constipation showed significantly higher sensory scores than a matched normative sample, specifically in oral processing (P < .001), visual processing (P < . 05), sensory avoiding (P < .001), and sensory sensitivity (P < .05). Sensory registration, avoidance, and oral processing significantly predicted toileting behavior over-responsiveness, and attentional difficulties contribute to toileting under-responsiveness. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings revealed that children with chronic constipation have underlying sensory characteristics that contribute to toileting behavioral difficulties. By identifying sensory processing patterns of children with chronic constipation, we can optimize behavioral interventions to complement laxative therapy for this population.

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