Acute Abdominal Pain:
Although tummy aches seem like an inevitable part of childhood, there are times when a child’s pain
seems so intense that parents can grow quite concerned. A study
published in the December 2007 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics
shines some light as to the cause and potential treatment for abdominal pain in kids that's severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
The medical charts of 962 children, ages 4 and older, who were seen for at least one doctor’s visit over a six month period were reviewed.
Of the charts reviewed, the chief complaint of 9% of the children was acute abdominal pain. Significantly more girls (12%) than boys (5%) had this symptom. The most frequent cause of this complaint (48%) was acute or chronic constipation
. Only 2% of the children required surgery. In 19% of the cases, no cause was discovered.
The Bottom Line:
If your child is experiencing acute abdominal pain, it is important that you contact your physician for a full evaluation. This study indicates that constipation is a likely cause of acute abdominal pain in children and your doctor should assess this as a potential diagnosis. Remember, however, that more than 50% of cases in this study were not
due to constipation. If you're concerned with preventing constipation, discuss dietary changes
and other strategies for promoting regular bowel movements with your child's doctor.