Abused children more likely to suffer unexplained abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting

Mar 08, 2010

Children who have been abused psychologically, physically or sexually are more likely to suffer unexplained abdominal pain and nausea or vomiting than children who have not been abused, a study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers concludes.

"Therefore, when young patients complain about unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, their doctors should ask questions to determine if they might have been abused," said Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D., lead author of the study, an assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of UNC's Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders.

The study is published in the March/April 2010 issue of Annals of Family Medicine. In the study, van Tilburg and study co-authors analyzed data that was obtained as part of the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). Their analysis included 845 children ages 4 through 12 years. Every two years they collected information about the childrens' gastrointestinal symptoms from their parents and maltreatment allegations concerning these children from child protective services agencies. Then the children, at age 12, gave their own reports of GI symptoms, life-time maltreatment and psychological distress. A statistical method called logistic regression was used to analyze the data.

The results showed that among children in the study, sexual abuse preceded or coincided with in 91 percent of cases. In addition, in who said they recalled ever being abused physically, psychologically or sexually, there was a statistically significant association between abuse and both abdominal pain and nausea/vomiting.

An additional analysis aimed at separating the effect of psychological distress alone from physical or sexual abuse showed that most effects dropped below the level of statistical significance, except for the relationship between and nausea/. This is consistent with other results reported in the medical literature, van Tilburg said, but was only partly responsible for weakening the relation between physical abuse and . Other factors, such as permanent changes in the nervous system due to injury associated with physical abuse, must play a role as well, she said.

Explore further: Intervention helps decrease 'mean girl' behaviors, researchers find

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Early neglect predicts aggressive behavior in children

Apr 07, 2008

Children who are neglected before their second birthday display higher levels of aggressive behavior between ages 4 and 8, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study, published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Women who suffered child abuse spend more on health care

Feb 19, 2008

Middle-aged women who suffered physical or sexual abuse as children spend up to one-third more than average in health-care costs, according to a long-term study of more than 3,000 women. Even decades after the abuse ended, ...

Early abuse tied to more depression in children

Feb 05, 2010

Although children can be depressed for many reasons, new evidence suggests that there are physiological differences among depressed children based on their experiences of abuse before age 5. Early abuse may be especially ...

Disclosing sexual abuse is critical

Jan 19, 2010

Half of sexual abuse survivors wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized, according to a collaborative study from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal ...

Recommended for you

Lift weights, improve your memory

5 hours ago

Here's another reason why it's a good idea to hit the gym: it can improve memory. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study shows that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic ...

Fat chats: The good, the bad and the ugly comments

8 hours ago

Cyberbullying and hurtful 'fat jokes' are disturbingly prevalent in the social media environment, especially on Twitter, says Wen-ying Sylvia Chou of the National Institutes of Health in the US. Chou is lead ...

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression

10 hours ago

Patients with increased inflammation, including those receiving cytokines for medical treatment, have a greatly increased risk of depression. For example, a 6-month treatment course of interferon-alpha therapy ...

User comments : 0