Prevalence and determinants of constipation in children in Asia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Felicia Djurijanto, Shyh Hsiang Lin, Nguyen Phong Vo, Nguyen Quoc Khanh Le, Anh Nguyen-Hoang, Szu Chuan Shen, Chung Hsin Wu, Jian Yu Chen, Ngan Thi Kim Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Constipation is prevalent worldwide, significantly increasing healthcare costs and diminishing the quality of life in children affected. Current studies have yielded mixed results regarding the factors associated with constipation, and mainly focusing on patients outside of Asia. Moreover, most of these studies lack focus on the paediatric population. This study aimed to identify the prevalence and associated factors of constipation among children in Asia. Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we systematically searched PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane for cohort and cross-sectional studies published from database inception up to October 12, 2022, and continued with manual searching until September 2, 2023. Eligible studies were those that included children in Asia aged 0–18 years old suffering from idiopathic constipation, with prevalence value provided in the English abstract. The analysis included clinical and general population. Children with organic constipation, who had undergone gastrointestinal surgery, or with congenital defects were excluded, as these factors affect the incidence of constipation. Data included in the analysis were extracted from published reports only. The extracted data were pooled using random-effects model to analyse the prevalence of constipation in children in Asia. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42022367122. Findings: Out of 4410 systematically searched studies and 36 manually searched ones, a total of 50 studies were included in the final analysis, encompassing data from 311,660 children residing in Asia. The pooled prevalence of constipation was 12.0% (95% CI 9.3–14.6%, I2 = 99.8%). There was no significant difference in constipation prevalence observed by sex and geographical location. Nonetheless, adolescents and children aged 1–9 years exhibited a significantly higher prevalence constipation compared to infants (p < 0.0001) Additionally, significant differences in constipation rates were observed across various diagnostic methods, population sources, and mental health conditions. Interpretation: Despite the high heterogeneity resulting from varying diagnostic tools or definitions used among studies, our review adds to the literature on constipation among children in Asia. It reveals a notably high prevalence of constipation in this demographic. Diagnostic methods, age, and compromised mental health emerged as significant influencers of constipation among children in Asia, highlighting potential strategies to mitigate constipation prevalence in children in Asia. Funding: The National Science and Technology Council, Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102578
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Asian children
  • Constipation
  • Functional constipation
  • Gastrointestinal disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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