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Date of last update: 9/9/2017.

Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: 9 YO suddenly starting to poop his pants

 Suzanne - Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:05 pm

What would cause a 9yo male to suddenly start pooping his pants? Issue not addressed in the past and there are no past surgeries. Does not take any medications. Just gets too busy playing, but why isn't the message being sent to run to a bathroom?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:27 pm

User avatar Hi Suzanne,

This condition is referred to as encopresis. There are a few possible causes. Most commonly, this occurs due to chronic constipation and stool leaking around the blockage. The intestines have stretch receptors that signal the need for a bowel movement. With constipation, the intestines get stretched persistently and the receptors become insensitive. This is treated by using stool softeners to keep the stool very soft (almost diarrheal) and having regular bathroom time to keep the colon evacuated. The softeners often need to be continued for about a year so the colon becomes used to being small again and the receptors begin working once again. Then the stool softeners can be stopped slowly.

It should be kept in mind that with chronic constipation, often the bowel movements aren't particularly hard because the more liquid stool is leaking around an impaction so that the hard stool is not being evacuated.

In this age, another possible cause is simply that the child is too busy to decide to stop what he's doing to go to the bathroom. This can be treated by having regular, set bathroom times.

Best wishes.

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