Children with functional abdominal pain are more likely to have anxiety or depression during childhood, but few studies have looked at what happens when these kids are adults.
In “Functional Abdominal Pain in Childhood and Long-term Vulnerability to Anxiety Disorders” in the September 2013 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 12), researchers tracked children with abdominal pain and followed up with them as young adults.
Of the adults who had abdominal pain as children, 51 percent had an anxiety disorder during their lifetime (and 30 percent had a current diagnosis), compared with 20 percent of adults in a control group who had an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Forty percent of adults who had abdominal pain as children had depression during their lifetime, compared to 16 percent of adults in the control group.
Study authors conclude that patients with functional abdominal pain carry long-term vulnerability to anxiety that begins in childhood and persists into early adulthood, even if their abdominal pain resolves.