Advice on Abdominal Pain for Everyone Who Cares for Children

A recent editorial (MK Farrell. J Pediatr 2016; 177: 16-17) provides many useful pointers from a master clinician along with commentary on an epidemiology study of recurrent abdominal pain (ML Lewis et al. J Pediatr 2016; 177: 39-43).

The main finding of the study which used an internet survey of mothers (children 4-18) was that 23% of US children met the Rome III criteria for a functional GI disorder.  Constipation was the most common.

Key points in commentary:

  • John Apley’s monograph The Child with Abdominal Pains “should be read by all who care for children.”
  • Worldwide prevalence of functional GI disorders has been estimated to be 13%. Peak ages were 4-6 years and early adolescence with a greater prevalence in females
  • “A variety of phamacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments have been proposed, but none have been consistently effective except perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy.”
  • “Negative studies are not reassuring” [to families]

Pithy observations from Apley:

  • “The more time the doctor spends on the history, the less time he is likely to spend on treatment.”
  • “Doctors who treat the symptoms tend to file a prescription. Doctors who treat the patient are more likely to offer guidance.”
  • “It is a fallacy that a physical symptoms always has a physical cause and needs a physical treatment.”
  • “Anxiety like courage is contagious.”

My take: Dr. Farrell urges more research focus on interventions (diet, behavioral, alternative therapies, medical treatments) to improve outcomes and less focus on epidemiology.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician. This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

The Lawn, University of Virginia

The Lawn, University of Virginia


5 thoughts on “Advice on Abdominal Pain for Everyone Who Cares for Children

  1. Pingback: Brain-Gut Axis in 2017 | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Worldwide Burden of Functional Disorders | gutsandgrowth

  3. Pingback: Prospective Pediatric Study of the Persistence and Progression of Recurrent Abdominal Pain | gutsandgrowth

  4. Pingback: It Hurts Here and Here and Here | gutsandgrowth

  5. Pingback: Course of Functional Abdominal Pain Before and During Pandemic | gutsandgrowth

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