Children that regularly soil themselves should be taken to a doctor as they could have underlying behavioural problems, parents have been warned.
A study of children with soiling problems aged between seven and eight-years-old found that it was often an indicator of a range of difficulties including attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, phobias, anxiety, low self-esteem and bullying.
The study said: “Children who soil were reported by their parents to have significantly more emotional and behavioural problems compared to children who do not soil.
“The rate of attention and activity problems, obsessions and compulsions, and oppositional behaviour was particularly high in frequently soiling children.”
The study, part of the Children of the 90s project based at Bristol University, found that many parents don’t seek medical advice when their children soil themselves even though this could lead to having their behavioural problems being resolved.
The author of the report, Dr Carol Joinson said: “Although soiling is a common childhood problem causing a great deal of distress to children and their families, little publicity is given to the problem.
“As a result, many parents are not aware that soiling is a condition for which they should seek advice from a health professional and only a small proportion of children see a doctor for soiling problems.”
The report found that out of the 8,200 families taking part, 1.4 per cent of children soiled their clothes during the daytime more than once a week. Another 5.4 per cent soiled less than once a week. The report also established that soiling is more common in boys than girls.