Mom, my tummy hurts


Recurrent abdominal pain is very usual in children (up to 10% of children). It occurs most commonly between ages 4 and 14 years, with peaks at 4-6 years and at 7-12 years, and girls are affected more often than boys.

When we talk about “recurrent or functional abdominal pain” in childhood, we are referring to an abdominal pain that occurs for at least once a week for at least two months, and is severe enough to affect a child’s activities. It does not have organic causes, but it is due to a functional disorder, and is often accompanied by symptoms such as headache, limb pain, or difficulty in sleeping. Stress is considered to trigger psychosomatic recurrent abdominal pain and follow-up studies show that parental factors (such as anxiety) rather than the psychological characteristics of the child are more important in the persistence of abdominal pain; so, acceptance by parents of the role of psychological factors in the maintenance of symptoms is associated with recovery.

It has recently been observed that children with psychosomatic recurrent abdominal pain show lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than children without recurrent abdominal pain. This might be helpful for children with this problem.