Research from Vanderbilt University recently published findings in Pediatrics that children who have regular abdominal pain complaints are more likely to have an anxiety disorder in adulthood.
Dr. Lynn Walker, who led the research team followed up with young adults who had chronic abdominal pain as children. They found that out of 332 patients who previously suffered as kids, 51% had an anxiety disorder as adults. This was compared to a control group of 147 people, of which only 20% had an anxiety disorder in adulthood. The study also found that 40% of the childhood sufferers experienced depression during their lifetime – compared with 16% from the control group.
Pediatricians say abdominal pain complaints from kids can mean many things, but when it happens often, it may be associated to stress. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that the first clue a child may have this type of recurrent abdominal pain is that it usually appears and disappears over the course of a week or more. Usually, there are no other symptoms that accompany the pain, like fever, vomiting or a sore throat.
Dr. Walker recommends that parents encourage their kids to continue normal activities in spite of the pain. “That can be very hard if the parent has a child who is terrified of the pain, and is crying and doubled over in pain. It’s also important to find ways to support the child’s interests and activities outside of the ‘sick role.’ So if a kid really likes to draw, get them art lessons or if you’ve got a dog, get them involved in training the dog – something they can feel good about,” says Walker….. Medical News Today 8/13/13