Parental reports of somatic symptoms in preschool children: Prevalence and associations in a Spanish sample

Edelmira Domènech-Llaberia, Ma Claustre Jané, Josepa Canals, Sergi Ballespí, Griselda Esparó, Elena Garralda

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    69 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: To document prevalence and associations of somatic symptoms in Spanish preschool children. Method: Subjects were 3- to 5-year-olds attending nurseries (8 urban, 30 rural). Parental questionnaires (response rate 77%) were used to inquire about somatic symptoms in the child in the 2 weeks prior to assessment, about preschool absence and pediatric help-seeking, chronic family health problems, and recent stressful life events for the child. Parents completed questionnaires on child psychopathology (Early Childhood Inventory 4) and their own mental health (General Health Questionnaire). Children who were reported as complaining of symptoms frequently (four or more times) were compared to noncomplaining children. Results: Parents reported that 452 of the 807 (56%) children complained of somatic symptoms at least once, significantly more so in urban than in rural areas. Frequent somatic complaints were reported for 165 of the 807 (20%) (abdominal pains 7.9%, tiredness 5.7%, leg pains 4%, headaches 2%, dizziness 0.4%). There were significant associations of frequent symptom reporting with days off preschool and pediatric clinic attendance, with emotional and behavioral symptoms in children, mental distress in parents, and urban abode. Conclusions: Somatic symptoms are common in preschool children. Results point to family influences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)598-604
    JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


    • Epidemiology
    • Preschoolers
    • Psychopathology
    • Somatic symptoms


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