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Rectal Prolapse in Children


A rectal prolapse is a condition that causes part of your child's rectum to move down through his anus. The rectum is the end of your child's bowel. A prolapse may happen during your child's bowel movement. A prolapse may also happen when your child is 1 to 5 years of age, when he begins standing or potty training. The cause of your child's rectal prolapse may not be known.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child's heart is beating faster than usual.
  • Your child loses consciousness.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has severe pain in his abdomen.
  • Your child's abdomen looks bigger than usual.
  • Blood from your child's rectum soaks through his underwear or diaper.
  • Your child has a prolapse and you are unable to manually reduce it.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has nausea or is vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Antiparasitics help treat or prevent a parasite infection.
  • Bowel movement softeners help prevent constipation.
  • Laxatives help your child's intestines relax and loosen to prevent constipation.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

How to do a manual reduction:

Your child's healthcare provider may instruct you to place your child's rectum back inside of the anus. The following are general steps to follow. Your child's healthcare provider may give you specific steps to follow for your child.

  • Place your child face down on a bed or comfortable surface. Have him bend his knees.
  • Wash your hands and put on gloves. Lubricate your glove with petroleum jelly. If you do not have gloves or jelly, wrap a finger in one sheet of toilet paper.
  • Hold the rectum on both sides of the anus. If using toilet paper, place your finger in the center of the rectum. Gently apply firm, steady pressure on your child's rectum and push it into the anus. You may need to apply pressure for several minutes if the bowel is swollen.
  • If you used toilet paper to perform manual reduction, withdraw your finger and leave the toilet paper in place. Your child will pass the toilet paper with his next bowel movement.
  • Inspect your child's anus. You should not see the rectum. If a prolapse happens again, you can repeat manual reduction. You can also hold the rectum in place with gauze and tape across your child's buttocks. Before you apply gauze, place a quarter size amount of petroleum jelly on the gauze. The petroleum jelly will prevent the gauze from sticking to your child's rectum. Remove the gauze as directed by your child's healthcare provider.

Manage your child's rectal prolapse:

  • Increase the amount of liquid your child drinks. Liquids can help keep your child's bowel movements soft and prevent constipation. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid your child should drink each day.
  • Feed your child a variety of high-fiber foods. This may help decrease constipation by adding bulk and softness to your child's bowel movements. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information about a high-fiber diet.
  • Have your child use a potty. Your child's feet need to reach the ground when he sits on the potty. His buttocks need to be at the level of the seat. He should not be leaning forward or standing. A potty will prevent him from straining and causing a rectal prolapse. You may place your child on an adult toilet if a potty is too small.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Rectal Prolapse in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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