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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Aug 2019 - 30 Aug 2019


Human Studies

2020 Jun

Psychol Health Med



Children’s physical pain: relations with maternal and paternal pain and prediction from maternal depressive symptoms and hope during infancy.


Chronic pain is common in children and increases their risk for developing a chronic pain condition in adulthood, yet relatively little is known about early parental psychosocial factors that predict the development of chronic pain in childhood. We examined the extent to which chronic pain frequency in a community sample of 6-year-old children was related to frequency of chronic pain in their parents, and was prospectively predicted by early maternal risk (i.e., depressive symptoms) and promotive (i.e., hope) factors. Fifty primary caregivers (94% mothers) of 6-year-old twin children who were enrolled in a larger study during children's infancy were randomly selected to complete a telephone interview regarding their own, their partner's, and their children's pain symptoms and functioning. Pain symptom scores were derived by summing the number of seven possible body areas that were painful at least monthly during the prior 6 months. Pain symptoms at three or more sites were coded as multisite pain. Prior maternal depressive symptoms and hope were assessed when children were aged 12-months. Pain symptom scores were positively correlated within families, and risk of child pain increased in a dose-response fashion according to whether neither, one, or both parents experienced multisite pain. Maternal hope but not depressive symptoms prospectively predicted fewer painful body regions in children five years later. Findings suggest that pain runs in families and pain in childhood may be influenced by early maternal psychosocial factors. Future research should focus on how parents' own health and psychological attributes influence risk for children's chronic pain.