More data (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014; 12: 2026-32) helps answer the question about the persistence of functional abdominal pain from childhood into young adulthood.
Using a longitudinal study design, consecutive new pediatric patients (8-16 years) with functional abdominal pain from a subspecialty clinic were contacted on average 9.2 years (n=392) after their initial evaluation.
- 41% continue to meet criteria for a functional GI disorder, most commonly irritable bowel syndrome (110 of 169 patients).
- Severity of pain was not a predictive factor of persistence
- Extraintestinal somatic complaints and depressive symptoms increased the risk of having persistent functional abdominal pain.
The associated editorial (pages 2033-36) comments on the strengths of the study and the potential opportunity of intervening to prevent persistence of abdominal pain. It notes that anxiety and hypervigilance can lower the brain’s perception threshold and lead to increased pain. “From this perspective, centrally targeted treatments such as psychological treatment or psychopharmacological treatments will likely have therapeutic value.”
Take-home message: 59% of patients resolve their symptoms with time.
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