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:
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
cystic fibrosis, may also lead to rectal
Parasitic diseases.Parasites such as whipworms increase the risk of
Cystic fibrosis. This disease of the mucous glands is
associated with conditions throughout the body, including digestive problems.
Some children with rectal prolapse will be children who have
cystic fibrosis. A child who
has rectal prolapse with no obvious cause may need to be tested for cystic
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
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.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerC. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery