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Nature, Nurture, and the Transition to Early
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Stephen A. Petrill, Robert Plomin, John C. DeFries, and John K. Hewitt

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157475

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157475.001.0001

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Somatic Complaints from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence

Somatic Complaints from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence

(p.76) 6 Somatic Complaints from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence
Nature, Nurture, and the Transition to Early Adolescence

Nicholas Giardino

Richard Rende

Oxford University Press

Somatic complaints are common in childhood. Recurrent pain, for example, may occur in as many as 30% of all children. In addition, 2–10% of children presenting at primary care clinics at any one time report suffering from physical symptoms, such as aches, pains, or fatigue, for which no diagnosable injury or disease is identified. However, relatively little research has been conducted on the phenomenon of somatic symptoms in children. Several reports show that children complaining of abdominal pain or headaches show higher levels of anxiety and depression, as well as other medically unexplained somatic symptoms, than healthy children. This chapter describes the results of analyses carried out to characterize somatic symptom complaints in children from the Colorado Adoption Project. Specifically, it reports on the following: frequencies of specific somatic complaints in children across developmental periods; the continuity of somatic symptoms from early childhood to early adolescence; the utility of identifying individuals with somatic complaints in early childhood; sex differences in the characterization of somatic symptoms across childhood; and assessment of genetic factors and environmental factors through sibling analyses.

Keywords:   Colorado Adoption Project, somatic complaints, somatic symptoms, children, anxiety, depression, adolescence, sex differences, genetic factors, environmental factors

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