Paediatric functional abdominal pain: significance of child and maternal health. A prospective study

Acta Paediatr. 2011 Nov;100(11):1461-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02349.x. Epub 2011 Jun 11.


Aim: First, to what extent do general paediatric outpatients with functional abdominal pain experience other somatic and mental health symptoms compared with children in a population-based sample? Second, to what extent are such symptoms in both patients and their mothers associated with persistent child abdominal pain and functional disability?

Methods: Ninety-four referred patients [mean age (SD) 11.1 (1.9) years, 62% girls] were assessed by questionnaires and a paediatric consultation at baseline and at follow-up after 6-9 months (94% follow-up participation). At baseline, somatic and mental health symptoms in the patients were compared with a population-based sample of 14,000 school children. Outcome at follow-up was patient self-reported abdominal pain and disability. Prognostic factors explored included patient and maternal somatic and mental health symptoms.

Results: The patients experienced significantly more somatic [e.g. headache (OR: 9.2; 95% CI: 5.9-14.6)] and emotional symptoms than the school children. Patient's older age and peer problems at baseline were significantly associated with more abdominal pain at follow-up, whereas patient's older age, emotional symptoms, prosocial behaviour and maternal somatic symptoms were associated with disability.

Conclusion: Our results highlight the importance of focusing wider than just the patient's symptoms of abdominal pain in clinical practice and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis*
  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology
  • Abdominal Pain / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Norway
  • Physical Examination
  • Prospective Studies
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric