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Autistic child with frequent bowel movement. Is it correct to give laxative for this?

Dec 2012
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Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2012
Answered : 1694 Questions
My son is 4 yrs old and he has Autism. For the past month he has been having diarrhea about every 10-15 minutes, very little amounts. I have gone to 3 different doctors, and the hospital. The doctors told me he was holding his bowels because he is learning to control himself. So I went to the hospital and they gave him an X-ray and he was backed up. So I gave him children's laxative. He had the biggest bowel movement I have ever seen and the diarrhea had stopped for about 3 days, now it's BACK!
I don't understand how he could have such a huge movement and now he needs to have another one, but the bad part is I have tried the laxative again and nothing so I stopped using it. When this happens he stands there and shakes, gets really stiff and cries for about 10 seconds then he is back to normal again. I just can't take this anymore I don't know what to do or where to go anymore. I'm going through about 15-20 diapers a day, his butt is so raw from going to the bathroom so much.. I just don't know what to do.. please Help me!
Posted Tue, 26 Feb 2013 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Nsah Bernard 4 hours later

I guess that if you are so worried about your son's diarrhea it is probably because you have met a pediatrician already or several doctors and you feel your son's problem has not been solved. If your son has recurrent diarrhea or gastroenteritis (chronic?)then there is probably an infectious origin which has not been treated. Your son's autistic condition is not directly linked to your diarrhea but rather it could predispose to him having chronic diarrhea (but other factors especially with your son's age could be responsible).
The cause of the chronic diarrhea (usually infectious) need to be determined with a stool exams + culture and other blood tests. There are a variety of microbes ranging from virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites etc that could lead to this. if cause is infection then appropriate medication to eradicate the diseases need to be given. You need to place your son on oral rehydration therapy ( to treat and prevent dehydration).
If the cause is not enteric infection then other associated systemic diseases that can predispose to chronic diarrhea will need to be investigated. Metabolic disorders and endocrine disorders will have to be excluded with laboratory exams.
Maintain proper food and environmental hygiene. Check if he has intolerance to certain food types. Do not use laxatives if child has frequent bowel movements. If your son is not eating well, he would not be able to stool or stool little and if given laxatives he would have diarrhea as side effect.
You need to consult with a pediatrician as soon as possible.

Hope this helped

Dr Nsah
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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