Encopresis is the soiling of underwear with stool by children who are past the age of toilet training. Because each child achieves bowel control at his or her own rate, medical professionals do not consider stool soiling to be a medical condition unless the child is at least 4 years old. This stool or fecal soiling usually has a physical origin and is involuntary -- the child doesn't do it on purpose.
In the U.S., it is estimated that 1%-2% of children younger than 10 years are affected by encopresis. Many more boys than girls experience encopresis; approximately 80% of affected children are boys. Rarely, encopresis is caused by an anatomic abnormality or disease that the child is born with. In the great majority of cases, encopresis develops as a result of chronic (long-standing) constipation. Emotional stress also may trigger encopresis.
Generally, the earlier that treatment begins for encopresis, the better. The first step involves clearing the colon of retained, impacted stool. After that, treatment focuses on encouraging healthy bowel movements. There are several methods for clearing the colon and relieving constipation. Using Stool softeners, such as lactulose, Colon lubricants, such as mineral oil, Rectal suppositories, Enemas, intake of more oral fluids are some of the common methods used to decrease constipation.