Children Don’t Complain Of Anxiety – They Say Their Stomach Hurts.

N.B. Never assume a physical complaint such as a stomach ache is brought on by stress. Always seek the opinion of an appropriately qualified medical professional.

A study conducted by Columbia University (Callaghan and Tottenham, 2019) has compared two groups of children :

  1. Children who had experienced DISRUPTED EARLY CAREGIVING (they had been adopted as babies or toddlers from care institutions or foster homes).
  2. Children who had been raised by a biologically related caregiver.

It was found that those from Groups 1 (i.e. those who had experienced disrupted early caregiving) were significantly more likely to suffer GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS (in the form of stomach aches, nausea, constipation and vomiting) than those from Group 2 (i.e. those who had been brought up by a biologically related caregiver).

DIFFERENCES IN STOMACH BACTERIA

Further investigation revealed also that those children who had experienced disrupted early life caregiving had significantly different stomach bacteria (e,g, in terms of diversity) from those who had been brought up by a biologically related caregiver.

IMPLICATIONS OF HAVING DIFFERENT STOMACH BACTERIA

These differences in stomach bacteria are of interest because, as the lead researcher in the study, Callaghan, pointed out, previous animal studies have demonstrated changes in stomach bacteria brought about by severe stress have an adverse effect upon neurological (i.e. brain) development.

BACTERIA AND ITS EFFECT ON BRAIN PROCESSING

All of the children in the study also underwent brain scans and it was found that their brain activity patterns were correlated with particular types of stomach bacteria ; such altered brain activity, linked to stomach bacteria type, can, in turn, affect the ability of the prefrontal cortex to regulate (i.e. control) emotion. This implies that children who frequently suffer stress induced stomach complaints may be at increased risk of developing mental health problems, particularly in relation to the ability to control emotions, later on in life.

However, the researchers involved in the study also pointed out that it is too early to say anything definitive in relation to these findings and that further research is necessary.

IMPLICATIONS

Finally, the researchers also pointed out that animal studies have demonstrated that changes in diet and ptobiotics can help to alter stomach bacteria which, in turn, reduces harm incurred by the nervopus system and that this knowledge may have implications in the future for the treatment of humans with conditions relating to the effects of stress-induced altered stomach bacteria on the nervous system development.

N.B. Never assume a physical complaint such as a stomach ache is brought on by stress. Always seek the opinion of an appropriately qualified medical professional.

Read my related posts :

My Humiliating Psychosomatic Response To Childhood Trauma

Childhood Trauma And Depression : Somatic Symptoms

RESOURCES

Natural Indigestion Remedy | Self Hypnosis Downloads

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Psychologist, researcher and educationalist.

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