Functional abdominal pain in childhood and adolescence increases risk for chronic pain in adulthood

Pain. 2010 Sep;150(3):568-572. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Jul 7.


A few studies of long-term outcomes for pediatric functional abdominal pain (FAP) have assessed acute non-abdominal pain at follow-up, but none has assessed chronic pain. We followed a cohort of pediatric patients with FAP (n=155) and a well control group (n=45) prospectively for up to 15 years. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 32 years at a follow-up telephone interview. FAP patients were classified as Resolved (n=101) versus Unresolved (n=54) at follow-up, based on whether they reported symptoms consistent with the adult Rome III criteria for a functional gastrointestinal disorder. Headache symptoms and reports of chronic non-abdominal pain also were assessed at follow-up. In the Unresolved group, 48.1% reported one or more sites of chronic non-abdominal pain at follow-up, compared to 24.7% in the Resolved group and 13.3% in the control group, p<0.01. More than half (57.4%) of the Unresolved group endorsed symptoms consistent with International Headache Society criteria for headache, compared to 44.6% of the Resolved group and 31% of controls, p<0.05. One-third of the Unresolved group reported both headache and one or more sites of chronic non-abdominal pain at follow-up, compared to 17.8% of the Resolved group and 4.4% of controls. Youth with FAP that persists into adulthood may be at increased risk for chronic pain and headache. Examination of central mechanisms that are common across chronic pain disorders may enhance understanding of this subgroup of FAP.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Abdominal Pain / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology*
  • Headache / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult