Skip to content

Children's Health

Font Size

Rectal Prolapse in Children - Topic Overview

Rectal prolapse in children most commonly happens before the age of 4, and usually before age 1. Boys and girls are equally likely to develop the condition.

A child's risk for rectal prolapse may increase because of a structural problem in the digestive system. Other conditions that increase a child's risk for rectal prolapse include:

Recommended Related to Children

Is It Really Food Poisoning?

You enjoyed every bite of the pasta alfredo, flame-grilled burger, or creme brulee but hours later you're sprinting, nonstop, to the bathroom. After vomiting or having diarrhea, you may not be thinking kindly of the restaurant or your BBQ host, figuring you have food poisoning. But is it really? Your upset stomach could be caused by a food intolerance or irritation -- your GI tract and creme brulee simply don't get along. In the U.S., about 76 million people get sick each year from food-borne...

Read the Is It Really Food Poisoning? article > >

  • Increased abdominal pressure. Rectal prolapse may develop in a child who frequently strains during bowel movements, such as from problems with long-term (chronic) constipation. Pressure from forceful coughing spells, such as those caused by whooping cough (pertussis) or long-term lung disease from cystic fibrosis, may also lead to rectal prolapse.
  • Short-term or long-term diarrhea.Giardiasis or Escherichia coli (E. coli) infection may cause short-term diarrhea. Conditions that prevent proper food absorption, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease, may cause long-term diarrhea.
  • Parasitic diseases.Parasites such as whipworms increase the risk of prolapse.
  • Cystic fibrosis. This disease of the mucous glands is associated with conditions throughout the body, including digestive problems. About 20 out of 100 children with rectal prolapse will be children who have cystic fibrosis.1 A child who has rectal prolapse with no obvious cause may need to be tested for cystic fibrosis.
  • Pelvic floor weakness. Weakness of these muscles, which stretch across the floor of the pelvis, may be linked with damage caused by nerve disorders or spinal cord deformities (such as spina bifida). Or pelvic floor weakness may occur after pelvic surgery.
  • Malnutrition. Across the world, lack of proper nutrition may be the most common cause of rectal prolapse in children. This is especially true in underdeveloped countries. Malnutrition prevents children from developing supportive tissues around the rectum.
  • Hirschsprung's disease. The birth defect Hirschsprung's disease affects muscular contractions of the bowel. This can lead to rectal prolapse.
  • Not having an opening in the anus (imperforate anus). The surgery to repair an imperforate anus can make rectal prolapse more likely.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Rectal Prolapse in Children Topics

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.

    worried kid
    jennifer aniston
    Measles virus
    sick child

    Child with adhd
    rl with friends
    Syringes and graph illustration