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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 April 2024 - 12 April 2024

2024 Apr 03

J Pain


Childhood Reading Ability and Pain in Childhood through to Midlife.


Bridges EC, Torsney C, Bates TC, Luciano M


Dyslexia and pain have recently been shown to correlate on a genetic level, but there has been little exploration of this association on the phenotypic level despite reports of increased pain in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which commonly co-occurs with dyslexia. In this study we test for an association between reading ability, which is the primary feature of dyslexia, and pain both in childhood and adulthood. Logistic regression modelling was used to test associations between reading ability in childhood and pain from childhood to midlife in a large UK birth cohort; the 1958 National Child Development Study. Associations were found between poor childhood reading ability and increased headache and abdominal pain in childhood, and between poor childhood reading ability and headache, eye pain, back pain, and rheumatism in adulthood. Mediation analyses indicated that socio-economic status (SES: defined by employment), fully mediated the association between poor reading ability in childhood and back pain at age 42. By contrast, the association between reading ability and eye pain acted independently of SES. Different mechanisms were thus indicated for association of reading with different pain types, including manual labour and a potential shared biological pathway. PERSPECTIVE: This study found a relationship between poor reading ability in childhood and pain in childhood and adulthood. Those with reading difficulties should be monitored for pain symptoms. Future research may uncover shared biological mechanisms, increasing our understanding of pain and potential treatments. DATA AVAILABILITY: Data used in this study are publicly available through the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/cls-studies/1958-national-child-development-study/).