Relationship of common pain conditions in mothers and children

Clin J Pain. Mar-Apr 2007;23(3):204-13. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31802d7807.


Objectives: The scientific evidence is conflicting as to whether there is an association between parental and child pain. The goal of this study was to assess whether there is an association between: (1) site-specific pain conditions in mothers and children and (2) the presence of multiple pain conditions in mothers and children.

Methods: A population-based sample of 2466 children aged 11 to 17 years who were members of a prepaid health were interviewed about the occurrence of common pain conditions-back pain, headache, facial pain, and stomach pain. Their mothers were also interviewed about the presence of pain.

Results: Children were at significantly increased risk of having back pain, headache, and stomach pain if their mothers also reported pain at the same site (index pain). The association between maternal and child back pain and headache remained significant after adjusting for mother and child demographic variables. A dose-response relationship was observed between maternal multiple pain sites (1, 2, 3, or more) and the presence of back pain, headache, and stomach pain in the child after adjusting for the mother having the index pain and other potential confounders. In multivariate analyses, children were at increased risk of having multiple (2 or more) pain conditions if their mothers had pain at multiple sites, with a dose-response relationship evident with increasing number of maternal pain sites.

Discussion: There was an association between maternal and child pain in this population-based sample. The presence of multiple pain sites in the mother consistently predicted the presence of site-specific pains and multiple pains in the child. Future research on the association of child and parental pain should include multiple pain sites as both outcome and predictor variables.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Community Health Planning
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prevalence