Abdominal Pain for Life

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RAP is regarded by pediatricians to be a short-term phenomenon with no long-standing clinical consequences. However, there is comparatively little literature on the long-term outcome in children with RAP. Studies from clinical samples suggest that between 25% and 50% continue to experience symptoms into adulthood and have higher rates of psychiatric disorders (40).

Conversely, medically unexplained symptoms in adult life, including unexplained hospitalizations, are associated with experiencing abdominal pain in childhood (48,49). Overall, this evidence adds weight to the theory that RAP is a childhood form of functional disorder. For some, the natural history of abdominal pain may be life long.


The chapter has reviewed the epidemiology of abdominal pain and the most well-recognized functional GI disorders. These symptoms are each common in the community, with one out of four people reporting RAP. Although many of these people have not had diagnostic testing to exclude organic diseases, the current literature suggests that most of these people have functional GI disorders. The remainder of this book will cover why people have these symptoms and what can be done to help them. Improved understanding of these conditions is necessary to alleviate suffering and reduce the economic burden of these syndromes.


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