School of Medical and Health Sciences
Abdominal pain is a common reason for medical visits. We examined the prevalence, gastrointestinal, and emotional significance of abdominal pain in a population-based cohort serially followed up from birth to 17 years. Children and adolescents from Generation 2 of the Raine Study participated in comprehensive cross-sectional assessments at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 17 years. At 17 years, medical history, general health, gastrointestinal symptoms, medications, health practitioner attendance, and self-rated unhappiness were recorded. Longitudinal data regarding abdominal pain or unhappiness, from serial questionnaires, were analysed to identify factors associated with abdominal pain and adverse emotional health at age 17 years. Females experienced more abdominal pain than males at all ages (p < 0.05). Seventeen-year-old adolescents with abdominal pain reported a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, being bullied at school, and poorer health status than those without abdominal pain (p < 0.05 for all). Abdominal pain and unhappiness during childhood and mid-adolescence were prospectively associated with recurrent abdominal pain, anxiety, depression and unhappiness during late adolescence (p < 0.05 for all). In conclusion, abdominal pain in children and adolescents associates with depression, anxiety, being bullied, unhappiness and reduced overall health-rating during adolescence. Awareness of these factors may guide management decisions.
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