Stomach ache and children, useless tests that cost 3 thousand euros

Paediatricians: “For abdominal pain without an organic cause, health shopping fuels a vicious circle and does not solve the problem”

Many specialist visits, ultrasounds, laboratory tests for abdominal pain without an organic cause, frequent in children, and which paediatricians define ‘functional abdominal pain’. Useless checks for this condition which do not help to solve the problem and cost families and the healthcare system around 3 thousand euros per year for each child affected. The president of the Italian Society of Paediatrics (Sip), Annamaria Staiano, did the math for Adnkronos Health on the sidelines of the presentation, today in Rome, of the European campaign on ‘functional abdominal pain’, promoted by the European Society of Gastroenterology , pediatric hepatology and nutrition (Espghan), created in Italy by Sip and the Italian Society of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Pediatric Nutrition (Sigenp).

“In the United States – continues Staiano – a comparative study was done a few years ago, which we can consider a reference for us too, between the expenses incurred for children with recurrent abdominal pain and those without. The result is that the annual expense is of approximately 3 thousand dollars more per year for each child” with this type of stomach ache, not accompanied “by ‘alarm bells’ that require further investigation such as fever, continuous and growing pain never felt before or which wakes up the child at night”.

“For children or young people suffering from recurrent abdominal pain – reiterates Staiano – precisely because unnecessary ‘medical shopping’ is carried out, healthcare costs rise together with the inconvenience of the children and their families due to the continuous checks. To have confirmation that there are no traits of an organic pathology, in fact, are seen many times, we go from one doctor to another. And there are many useless investigations, such as ultrasound scans which are not indicated in these cases, or laboratory tests”, explains President Sip, underlining how one of the messages of the campaign launched today on this condition which affects 3 out of 10 children, is precisely that of “avoiding tests useless, because in addition to being useless, the negative test result does not stop the investigations but actually fuels the vicious circle. Instead, parents need to be informed by their pediatrician about the uselessness of checks, reassured, knowing that there are no dangers and that 80% of children improve within 2 years after seeing a doctor.”