Somatic Complaints in Childhood Functional Abdominal Pain Are Associated With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in Adolescence and Adulthood

Dengler-Crish, Christine M; Horst, Sara N; Walker, Lynn S*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181ec1d2e
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Objectives: Nongastrointestinal (non-GI) somatic complaints are common in children and adults with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). The aim of the present study was to determine whether non-GI somatic complaints in children with functional abdominal pain (FAP) were associated with FGIDs in adolescence and young adulthood.

Patients and Methods: In a prospective clinic-based study, children and adolescents (ages 8–16 years) with FAP (n = 188) and well controls (n = 61) completed a validated measure of somatic symptoms. Participants were assessed 4 to 15 years later (as older adolescents and young adults) for presence of current FGIDs as defined by the Rome III criteria.

Results: Of the 188 youths with pediatric FAP, 35.6% met criteria for FGIDs at follow-up. Initial levels of non-GI somatic symptoms were significantly higher in pediatric FAP participants who subsequently met criteria for FGIDs at follow-up compared with controls and pediatric FAP participants who did not meet criteria for FGIDs at follow-up.

Conclusions: The association of non-GI somatic symptoms with FAP in children may identify a group that is at risk for FGIDs later in life.

Author Information

*Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development

Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.

Received 6 January, 2010

Accepted 6 June, 2010

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Lynn S. Walker, PhD, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Adolescent Medicine and Behavioral Science, 11128 Doctor's Office Tower, Nashville TN 37232-9060 (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

This research was supported by award number R01 HD23264 (L.S. Walker) from the National Institute on Child Health and Development and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Child Health and Development or the National Institutes of Health. Support also was provided by NIMH award T32MH075883 through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research (C.M. Dengler-Crish), NIDDK Award T32DK007673 (S.N. Horst), the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (P30 HD15052), the Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Research Center (DK058404), and the Vanderbilt General Clinical Research Center (M01 RR-00095).

Copyright 2011 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN