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Papers: 10 Feb 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 15

Stress Health


Association between adverse childhood experiences and bodily pain in early adolescence.


Abrahamyan A, Lucas R, Severo M, Talih M, Fraga S


We aimed to examine the relationship between lifetime exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) during the first decade of life and recent pain features reported in early adolescence. We conducted a prospective study using data from 4564 adolescent Generation XXI birth cohort participants recruited in 2005-2006. Adverse childhood experiences were reported by children at ages 10 and 13 years using a 15-item questionnaire. Recent pain features (e.g., any pain, pain sites, recurrent pain intensity, and recurrent pain duration) were measured using structured questionnaires, including the Luebeck pain screening questionnaire at age 13. Using hierarchical binary and multinomial logistic regression analyses with progressive adjustments for confounders, we estimated the associations [adjused odds ratios (aOR) with their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI)] between exposure to ACEs at 10 and pain features at 13 years. The study revealed a statistically significant association between exposure to ACEs reported at age 10 and any pain experienced at age 13 (OR = 1.09; 95% CI [1.07, 1.12]). Even after accounting for the newly reported ACEs at age 13, the association with ACEs at age 10, remained significant (aOR = 1.11 [95% CI, 1.08-1.14]). Consistent patterns were observed when the number of pain sites, recurrent pain intensity, or recurrent pain duration were used as outcome variables instead of any pain at age 13. Adverse childhood experiences occurring during the first decade of life predict the onset of pain features during early adolescence. Consequently, childhood exposure to adversity should be considered a pivotal initial exposure in a pathway leading to chronic pain later in life.