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Ann Fam Med. 2013 May-Jun;11(3):238-44. doi: 10.1370/afm.1490.

Prognosis of abdominal pain in children in primary care--a prospective cohort study.

Author information

  • 1Department of General Practice, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. Y.Lisman-van.Leeuwen@umcg.nl

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Abdominal pain is a common complaint in children. Because few data exist on its natural history, we wanted to investigate the prognosis of abdominal pain in children in general practice.

METHODS:

In a prospective cohort study of children (aged 4 to 17 years) complaining of abdominal pain, follow-up was at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months using standardized questionnaires. The primary outcome measure was chronic abdominal pain: abdominal pain at least 1 time a month during at least 3 consecutive months that had an impact on daily activities. Prevalence, incidence, and duration of chronic abdominal pain were assessed.

RESULTS:

Three hundred five children (116 boys, 189 girls), with a median age of 7.8 years (interquartile range [IQR] = 5.7-10.5 years) were included. Chronic abdominal pain was present in 142 (46.6%) children at an initial visit to the primary care physician for this complaint. During follow-up, 78.7% fulfilled the criteria for chronic abdominal pain at 1 or more follow-up points. Among 163 children at risk for developing chronic abdominal pain, the cumulative incidence of chronic abdominal pain was 60.1% (95% CI, 52.1%-67.7%) and was higher in girls than in boys (RR = 1.23; 95% CI, 0.94-1.61). Median duration of abdominal pain was 7.5 months (IQR = 4.5-12.0 months). Children aged 10 to 17 years had the longest duration of abdominal pain (median = 9.0 months; IQR = 7.5-12.4 months). Children with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome seemed to have a less favorable prognosis compared with children with symptoms of functional dyspepsia or functional abdominal pain.

CONCLUSIONS:

The presence and development of chronic abdominal pain is common and of long duration among children consulting in primary care for abdominal pain. These poor outcome data warrant follow-up.

KEYWORDS:

child; chronic abdominal pain; epidemiology; primary care; prognosis

PMID:
23690323
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3659140
Free PMC Article
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