Encopresis - Overview
Soiling; Incontinence - stool
Definition of Encopresis:
Encopresis is the voluntary or involuntary passage of stools in a child who has been toilet trained (typically over age 4), which causes the soiling of clothes.
See also: Bowel incontinence
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Encopresis is frequently is associated with constipation and fecal impaction. Often, hard fecal material remains in the colon and the child only passes a soft or semi-liquid stool around the impacted stool. Leakage of stool may occur during the day or night. There are rarely physical causes other than constipation (sometimes present since infancy).
Other causes may be related to:
- A lack of toilet training
- Toilet training at too early an age
- Emotional disturbance such as oppositional defiant disorder
- Conduct disorder
Whatever the cause the child may develop associated shame, guilt, or loss of self-esteem. The child may try to hide the discovery of the problem.
The following may increase the risk for encopresis:
- Being male
- Chronic constipation
- Low socioeconomic status
- Reviewed last on: 8/2/2011
- Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Feigelman S. Growth, Development, and Behavior. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 6.
Feldman MD. Encopresis. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2009. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:section 1.
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