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Pubmed-Navigating through 65 years of insights: lessons learned on functional abdominal pain in children

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Eur J Pediatr. 2024 Jul 8. doi: 10.1007/s00431-024-05667-4. Online ahead of print.


In 1958, Apley and Naish authored a groundbreaking paper in Archives of Disease in Childhood, elucidating the epidemiology and risk factors of recurrent abdominal pain in children-a subject that had confounded clinicians of their time. Surprisingly, even after 65 years, there are several unanswered questions regarding the etiology, pathophysiology, and management of pediatric abdominal pain. Contrary to the prevailing notion that children naturally outgrow functional abdominal pain, compelling evidence suggests it's possible these children develop a number of clinically significant psychological issues that could profoundly impact their quality of life and, consequently, future health and educational outcomes. In this light, we aimed to comprehensively review the current literature to update the knowledge of practicing clinicians on functional abdominal pain, summarizing the evidence from the last 65 years.Conclusion: The enduring unanswered questions surrounding childhood abdominal pain continue to challenge clinicians, resulting in unnecessary investigations, thereby contributing to substantial healthcare expenditures. It is also evident that children with long-standing symptoms would progress to adulthood with the potential to develop irritable bowel syndrome and many psychological disturbances. Several key interventions using pharmacological agents, such as amitriptyline, showed that some of these drugs are no more effective than the placebo in clinical trials. Several research during the recent past suggest that psychological interventions such as gut-directed hypnotherapy alleviate symptoms and ensure better prognosis in the long run. Therefore, clinicians and researchers must join hands to explore the pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning functional abdominal pain and novel therapeutic strategies to ensure the well-being of these children. What is Known: • Functional abdominal pain disorders are common among children, with a worldwide prevalence of 13.5% of children suffering from at least one of these disorders • These disorders contribute to a significant reduction in the quality of life of affected children and their families and lead to an array of psychological problems What is New: • The biological basis of functional abdominal pain is becoming more explicit, including complex interactions between altered microbiome, deranged motility, and psychological dysfunction with gut-brain interactions • Novel approaches giving minimal emphasis on pharmacological interventions and exploring psychological interventions are showing promising results.

PMID:38972964 | DOI:10.1007/s00431-024-05667-4

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