Abdominal pain in children develops with age and increases with psychosocial factors

Michael P. Jones*, Åshild Faresjö, Alissa Beath, Tomas Faresjö, Johnny Ludvigsson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Background & Aims: Functional gastrointestinal disorders are highly prevalent, cause significant suffering, and are costly to society. Pain is a central feature of 2 of the most common functional gastrointestinal disorders: irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia. Although these disorders have been well studied in adults, their etiology is poorly understood. We sought to identify early life factors associated with the development of abdominal pain in children (age, 2–12 y). Methods: We collected data from the All Babies in Southeast Sweden study of 1781 children, born from October 1, 1997, through October 31, 1999, whose families answered questions about abdominal pain and risk factors at birth, 1 year, 2.5 years, 5 years, 8 years, and 10 to 12 years. We used latent growth curve models to evaluate risk factors for development of abdominal pain. The primary outcomes were prevalence of abdominal pain and associated factors. Results: The prevalence of abdominal pain increased linearly with age in the study cohort, increasing by approximately 6% per year. Psychosocial variables associated with slope of the growth curve included lower emotional control at age 2 years (P =.005), parental concern for the child at age 2 years (P =.02), and measures of parental stress (P =.004). Nonvaginal birth was associated with a reduced slope of the growth curve (P =.03). Conclusions: In a study of children in Sweden, we found early psychosocial environment and mode of delivery at birth was associated with development of childhood abdominal pain. Factors associated with development of the early immune system, identified in previous recall-based research, were not supported by data from this study. These findings have important implications for the prevention of abdominal pain in children and later in life.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)360-367.e1
    Number of pages9
    JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


    • ABIS study
    • FGID
    • psychology
    • IBS


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