The guidance advises that GPs should perform a physical examination to confirm whether the child has faecal impaction. This must be cleared before maintenance therapy is prescribed.
It also recommends on the correct dosage of laxatives and suitable follow-up once the impaction has cleared, including appropriate referral to a specialist if treatment does not work.
Jenny Gordon, NICE guideline development group chair, said: ‘For years, I think there has been a lack of understanding surrounding this condition - parents are often reluctant to go to their GP, and may be very embarrassed or even ashamed if their child has constipation.'
She added: ‘These guidelines are much needed and will help so many children. We now need to make sure that they are used and implemented.'
Adrian Thomas, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: ‘These guidelines should lead to a change in the way childhood constipation is perceived, and will help healthcare professionals to diagnose children with this condition earlier.'