(HealthDay News) – Functional somatic symptoms (FSS) in childhood may be predicted by feeding, sleeping, or tactile reactivity problems in the first 10 months of life, according to a study published online Sept 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Using community health nurses at four home visits, Charlotte Ulrikka Rask, MD, PhD, from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues assessed health, development, and functioning in infants (newborn to age 10 months). The Danish National Registers were used to assess sociodemographic data and information on maternal psychiatric illness.

The researchers found that combined infancy regulatory problems (at least two of three problems of feeding, sleeping, or tactile reactivity during the first 10 months of living) predicted impaired FSS at 5–7 years (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.9), after controlling for maternal psychiatric illness and annual household income. There was also an association between maternal psychiatric illness during the child’s first year of living and later child FSS (aOR, 7.1).

“The perspective of mapping the modifiable early risk mechanisms of FSS in children could have implications for treatment and prevention of FSS in early childhood,” the authors write. “Parents of infants with regulatory problems could be taught to help their infants regulate their behavioral and physiological state, which could potentially reduce the risk of later development of impairing FSS.”

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