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Pediatrics. 2013 Aug;132(2):e459-67. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-0159. Epub 2013 Jul 8.

Functional somatic symptoms and consultation patterns in 5- to 7-year-olds.

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Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.



To investigate the frequency of and factors linked to medical consultation for functional somatic symptoms (FSS) among 5- to 7-year-old children.


We assessed 1327 children from the Copenhagen Child Cohort 2000 for FSS at ages 5 to 7 years. Register data on past health care use in general practice were compared between children with and those without parent-reported medical consultation for FSS at the age of 5 to 7 years: respective consulters (n = 96) and nonconsulters (n = 211) and children without FSS (n = 1019). Degree of parental worries about the child's symptoms and parent-reported symptom characteristics and associated impacts were compared between consulters and nonconsulters.


Among 308 children with FSS, 31.1% were consulters. Being a consulter was significantly associated with multisymptomatic presentation, parental worries about the symptoms, symptom impact, and a higher past health care use in general practice. Multiple logistic regression analysis controlled for gender, comorbid physical disease, and symptom severity revealed that the number of face-to-face contacts in general practice during the child's first 4 years of life predicted being an consulter for FSS at 5 to 7 years (odds ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 1.00-1.06; odds ratio interpreted per unit change in number of contacts).


This study adds to our understanding of health care use for FSS in childhood by highlighting the influence of parents' early consultation patterns with their child and the influence of parental perceptions of their child's health and FSS-related impact on pediatric health care use for FSS. Management of health care use in children with FSS should address these aspects.


child; frequent attendance; functional somatic symptoms; general practice; health care use; medically unexplained symptoms

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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