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Childhood Tummy Aches May Be Tied to Adult Anxiety

Study looked at young adults a decade later

continued...

Parents should take chronic stomach pain seriously from the get-go, said Dr. Sarah Rebstock, director of the Pediatric Pain Medicine Outpatient Clinic at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "Get referred early if your child has two weeks or longer of stomach pain," she said. "Don't wait."

Although the study tied childhood stomach problems to adult anxiety and depression, it didn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

Dr. Mark Lowenheim, a pediatric gastroenterologist at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, N.Y., was quick to caution that not every child who has abdominal complaints will need to see a mental-health professional.

"Certainly there is a subset of children who have abdominal pain who also have anxiety and depression, so it's not a surprise that they also have a higher incidence of anxiety and depression as adults, but this is not a given," he said.

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