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Children and Constipation

Does your child complain of lower abdominal discomfort?  Do they have less than 2 bowel movements a week or have frequent hard stools that can be painful to pass?  Is your child “dancing” around instead of just going to the bathroom?  If you have answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then your child may be experiencing acute constipation.

For many children, constipation occurs because they do not have enough fiber or hydration in their diets.  Children should be encouraged to eat a variety of foods that are high in fiber so that they lessen the chance of becoming constipated.  Examples of foods that are high in fiber include beans, whole grains (including bran and shredded wheat), apples, pears, prunes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked greens and broccoli.  When my children were toddlers, I was told by our pediatrician that any fruit or vegetable that had the letter “P” in it was high in fiber.  This may not sound very scientific, but our family has found that it works!

It is important to encourage children to drink water instead of pop or juice.  You may think that fruit juice could be beneficial, but most juice has low fiber content and high sugar content.  There are exceptions, like apricot nectar or prune juice that has “pulp”, though these should still be offered in moderation.  Children should be offered hydration breaks throughout the day at home and at school.  If your child is enrolled in sports, they should be drinking water throughout their games.  Sports drinks are beneficial for electrolytes if your child is performing in extreme activities, but should be used in moderation because if the high sugar content.

Exercise is also very important to keep your child’s gastrointestinal tract happy!  It is important to encourage your child to get off of the couch and get involved in at least an hour per day of physical activity.  Getting the body moving increases intestinal motility and makes passing stool easier.

Eating a nutritious diet that is high in fiber, drinking plenty of water and increasing physical activity is a great way to not only decrease your child’s chance of suffering from acute constipation but also a great way to reach their Let’s Move Challenge goals!

If you would like to find more information on how to keep the digestive tract of your family healthy, please visit the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website that is organized through the National Institute of Health at www.nih.gov.

Health Services

1.    Medical examinations are required for all children entering school (kindergarten or first grade), and all children enrolled in sixth and eleventh grades. The school medical examination may be provided by either a private physician at the family’s expense, or by a physician provided by the school district.

2.    Each child is given a vision test annually by the school nurse.

3.    Each student in kindergarten and grades one, two, three, seven, and eleven are given a hearing screening.

4.    Height, weight and BMI measurements are taken once a year by the school nurse.

5.    The school health record is initiated at the time of school admission and becomes a part of the cumulative health record throughout the child’s school career.

6.    Dental screening occurs in kindergarten, first, third, and seventh grade. The screening may be completed by the family dentist or by the school dentist.

Health Requirements

Pennsylvania School Law, Section 1402, mandates physical and dental examinations in certain grades. The state encourages parents to have the family physician or dentist do the examinations since these doctors are aware of the student’s health status and history. Examinations by the family physician or dentist are at the parent’s expense.If your child has a doctor appointment throughout the year and receives any immunizations, please ask for a copy of your child’s updated immunization record and send it in to your school nurse. Remember to keep a copy for your home records.If you prefer, the school district’s physician or dentist will provide the appropriate exams during the school year. There is no charge for the school exam.

Physical Examination Requirement

Grades: Kdg., 6 and 11

Dental Examination Requirement

Grades: Kdg., 3 and 7

Scoliosis Screening

Grades: 6 and 7


Immunizations regulations for Allegheny County

Immunization Requirements – Students will only be admitted with proof of completed immunizations.

Diphtheria/Tetanus 4 doses – one dose after 4th birthday
Polio 3 doses
Measles 2 doses on or after 1st birthday
Mumps 2 doses on or after 1st birthday
Rubella 1 dose on or after 1st birthday
Hepatitis B 3 doses
Varicella 2 doses on or after 1st birthday
Meningococcal (MCV4) 1 dose on or after 11th birthday
Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (Tdap) 1 dose on or after the 10th birthday

Administration of Medications at School

Parents are encouraged when at all possible to dispense medications for their children at home. We realize that some students will need to take medications at school. For the safety of the students, no medications will be administered to students by school personnel unless:

  1. Medication is in properly labeled container with student’s name, dosage, and time schedule for administration of medications.
  2. Physician’s directions for administering medication are clearly stated if the medicine is prescribed.
  3. Directions for administering commercial medication are clearly stated by the parent.
  4. Parent’s written permission including a full waiver releasing the school district and school personnel from all liability has been obtained.

Please contact the school nurse for appropriate forms and instructions on the administration of medications for your children.

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