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Early stomach troubles augur anxiety

May. 2, 2012, 9:00 AM

Children with stomach troubles grow up to be anxious adolescents and young adults, according to a recent study by Lynn S. Walker, professor of pediatrics and psychology, and colleagues.

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The researchers identified patients who underwent an upper GI scope because of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or functional dyspepsia (indigestion) between five and 15 years ago. About 100 of the former pediatric patients along with 143 healthy controls were asked to self-report on current stomach troubles, anxiety, quality of life and depression.

Adolescents and adults who had stomach problems in childhood had about double the rate of anxiety as those who did not, indicating an association between pediatric dyspepsia and anxiety the researchers characterize as “strong.” Increased risk of anxiety applied equally to those with normal esophageal histology and those with histologic esophagitis in childhood.

The results, published in the April issue of Gastroenterology, suggest that evaluation of psychological functioning should be considered as an integral part of the medical evaluation for dyspeptic symptoms.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.

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