Abdominal Pain in Children Increases With Age and With Psychological Factors

A recent study (MP Jones et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 360-7) provides granular data on a well-recognized phenomenon: stomach pain is more common in older children than younger children and is associated with psychosocial factors.

Design: “All Babies in Southeast Sweden” Study with 1781 children (born 1997-99).  Families answered questionnaires at birth, 1 year, 2.5 years, 5 years, 8 years and 10-12 years.

Key findings:

  • Abdominal pain prevalence increased linearly with age -each year the rate increased .  At 2 yrs, the prevalence was ~6%, at 5 yrs ~8%, at 8 yrs ~9.5%, and at 12 yrs ~12% (Figure 2)
  • Psychosocial factors associated with abdominal pain included lower emotional control at 2 yrs of age, parental concern for child at 2 yrs of age, and measures of parental stress.

My take: This study reinforces the idea that psychosocial factors increase the development of non-organic abdominal pain.  If they could be addressed better, GI clinics would be less busy.

Related blog posts:

Old Well, UNC Chapel Hill, Fall

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