Aim Increasing evidence exists with respect to the relation between stressful life events and functional constipation (FC). We aimed to investigate the prevalence of FC in Palestinian refugee preschool children and to determine if stress and trauma exposure are risk factors of FC in these children. Methods From November 2013 until May 2014, a cross-sectional survey was conducted in West Bank, Gaza and Jordan. Mothers of 862 Palestinian refugee children aged 7–48 months were interviewed on defecation pattern, socio-economic factors and the child’s exposure to traumatic events. Results Twelve percent of the Palestinian refugee children fulfilled the criteria for FC. The prevalence of constipation was significantly lower in Gaza compared to Jordan (2% vs. 17%, p <0,001). Living in Gaza was associated with lower odds of FC (OR 0,08, 95% CI 0,03–0,20). Trauma exposure was associated with higher odds of FC (OR 1,19, 95% CI 1,06–1,35), however only a small number of children had been exposed to traumatic events. Conclusion The overall prevalence of FC in Palestinian preschool children is comparable to prevalence rates among older children worldwide. In this age group stressful life events and trauma exposure seem not to play an important role in the development of FC.
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