Childhood ailments linked to adult chronic pain
NEW YORK, June 2 (Reuters) Children who suffer from stomach pain, headaches, and vomiting are more likely than their peers who don't report such symptoms to go on to develop chronic widespread pain as adults, UK researchers report.
But while just 1.5 per cent of people surveyed experienced such symptoms in childhood, 12.2 per cent of those surveyed had chronic pain as adults, meaning childhood symptoms only account for a small proportion of cases.
There are many other potential influences throughout life, such as psychological factors or adverse life events that account for ''a far greater proportion of cases of chronic widespread pain in the population,'' Gareth T Jones of the University of Aberdeen and colleagues note.
Chronic widespread pain is estimated to occur in 11 per cent of adults, Jones and his team note in the journal Arthritis&Rheumatism. It is more common among women, they add, and its prevalence increases with age.
There is some evidence that childhood symptoms signal later risk, but few studies have looked at risk over time. To fill this gap in knowledge, the researchers analyzed data on 7,470 people born in 1958 who were participating in a long-term study.
When participants were 7 years old, their mothers had reported whether they had experienced various symptoms including vomiting, abdominal pain, and headaches or migraines. Data were also collected at ages 11 and 16 years. When study participants reached age 45, they completed questionnaires assessing their level of body pain.
The investigators found that individuals with multiple symptoms at age 7 represented 1.5 percent of the study group, and were at 50 percent increased risk of suffering chronic pain at age 45. Having multiple symptoms at ages 11 and 16 also increased future risk of chronic pain, although symptom level at age 7 was the strongest predictor.
At age 45, 12.2 per cent of study participants reported having chronic widespread pain, suggesting many other factors beyond childhood symptoms must have been involved.