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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1978 December; 28(197): 729–734.
PMCID: PMC2158979

Recurrent abdominal pain in childhood


One hundred and sixty-two children (57 boys and 105 girls), aged between three and 15 years and suffering from recurrent abdominal pain, were seen in general practice in Thamesmead during a seven-year period. Only five were found to have possible organic causes for the pain. Comparison with a control group showed that the close relatives of children with pain consulted doctors more often, had had more abdominal complaints and operations, a higher rate of psychiatric illness and referral, and more known marital problems. Relations between mothers and children with recurrent pain were often unstable and inconsistent. The clinical picture was unhelpful and investigation unproductive.

Recurrent abdominal pain in childhood is often a reflection of family disorder, and assessment of the state of the family should precede decisions on management.

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Selected References

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  • APLEY J, NAISH N. Recurrent abdominal pains: a field survey of 1,000 school children. Arch Dis Child. 1958 Apr;33(168):165–170. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Oster J. Recurrent abdominal pain, headache and limb pains in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 1972 Sep;50(3):429–436. [PubMed]
  • Stone RT, Barbero GJ. Recurrent abdominal pain in childhood. Pediatrics. 1970 May;45(5):732–738. [PubMed]
  • Coulehan JL, Eberhard S, Kapner L, Taylor F, Rogers K, Garry P. Vitamin C and acute illness in Navajo school children. N Engl J Med. 1976 Oct 28;295(18):973–977. [PubMed]

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