(HealthDay News) – The majority of children presenting to primary care with abdominal pain develop chronic abdominal pain, with a median duration of 7.5 months, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Yvonne Lisman-van Leeuwen, PhD, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 305 children aged 4–17 years (median age, 7.8 years; 189 girls and 116 boys) to assess the prevalence, incidence, and duration of chronic abdominal pain. Follow-up at three, six, nine, and twelve months was via standardized questionnaire.

The researchers found that 78.7% of participants met the criteria for chronic abdominal pain at at least one follow-up point. The cumulative incidence of chronic abdominal pain was 60.1% among the 163 children at risk for developing chronic abdominal pain, and was higher in girls than boys. Abdominal pain had a median duration of 7.5 months, with the longest duration of pain among 10- to 17-year-olds. A less favorable prognosis was seen for children with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome compared to those with symptoms of functional dyspepsia or functional abdominal pain.

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

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