The epidemiology of recurrent stomachache and headache was studied in a community sample of 308 preschool children, most of whom were white. When the children were 3 years old, interviews with their mothers indicated that 3% had recurrent headaches and 9% had recurrent stomachaches. Children with recurrent stomachaches were more likely than those without recurrent stomachaches to have mothers who were emotionally depressed (P < .01), had marital problems (P < .05), and perceived their own health as poor (P < .05). When maternal poor health was controlled, depression was still associated with their children having stomachaches (P < .05). Prospectively collected data demonstrate that children with recurrent stomachaches did not have bowel difficulties when they were infants. Other psychosocial stresses and demographic factors were not associated with stomachaches. The only variable associated with recurrent headache was maternal depression. Children with recurrent headaches or stomachaches were more likely to have behavior problems, as measured by the Behavior Screening Questionnaire, than were children without these symptoms. The analysis presents new data on these common symptoms of childhood.
- Received March 17, 1986.
- Accepted July 15, 1986.
- Copyright © 1987 by the American Academy of Pediatrics