Digestive issues vs. stress and worry in the belly

Learn about: Digestive issues vs. stress and worry in the belly from Cara Natterson, MD,...
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Digestive issues vs. stress and worry in the belly

As a pediatrician, abdominal pain or stomach aches, it seems like the lowest common denominator. Everything boils down to a tummy ache. And my sense of it is that it´s the first place that anxiety centralizes in a child´s body. I mean there are real causes of stomach pain that range from constipation to reflux and everything in between. And those kids will tell you where their abdominal pain is and what causes it and it tends to be very focal. And it usually proceeds the tween years. But as kids get into eight, nine and 10 years of age, a lot of them have new onset abdominal pain and sometimes it´s just that that´s where their stress is settling. They don´t have headaches like adults do. They have abdominal pain. They don´t have other ways sort of articulating their worry. They have abdominal pain. So I think of it as the lowest common denominator. As a parent, you have kind of got to be a sleuth about it. You need to figure out is this organic or non organic because there is something going on with my kid´s body that I can fix or is it emotional. And do we need to address the stress or the worry that´s related to abdominal pain? If you have no idea where to start, call your pediatrician and they can walk you through a few quesitons and you can start to sort it out. But most importantly, if it´s just where your child is carrying their worry, then you need to teach your child how to let go of their worry so that their belly won´t hurt because even though it might be psychological to begin with, it becomes very real for these kids. Their tummies really, really do hurt. And some of them will sit out of sports or will have trouble falling asleep at night because of abdominal pain.

Learn about: Digestive issues vs. stress and worry in the belly from Cara Natterson, MD,...


Expert Bio

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Cara Natterson, MD

Pediatrician & Author

Cara Natterson, MD has treated thousands of children and guided their parents as well. She was a partner at Tenth Street Pediatrics in Santa Monica, California, a large group practice serving infants, children and teenagers. She now runs Worry Proof Consulting, the first of its kind pediatric practice that offers parents open-ended time to review everything from medical questions and biology basics to child development and parenting issues. Cara is also the author of several books on parenting and child health. She has a unique ability to translate cutting edge research into understandable terms for parents and their kids. More recently, Cara’s consulting has extended beyond individual families to include fortune 500 companies seeking expert advice on safety issues, child health, and crisis management.

Cara has appeared on television, in print, and on the web. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and she trained in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Cara is a Board certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And anyone who knows her knows that Cara is, by nature, one of the most risk-averse people on earth. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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