Parental accounts of the prevalence, causes and treatments of limb pain in children aged 5 to 13 years: a longitudinal cohort study

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The frequency, cause and treatment of limb pain were ascertained in a cohort of children at six time points between the ages of 5 and 13 years. Data were collected using self-completion questionnaires sent to the chief carers of children in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Reports of limb pain over the study period doubled from 15.1% of children aged 5 to 32.5% aged 13; 3.4% of children had limb pain at all time points, 43.4% never reported limb pain and 56.6% reported limb pain on at least one occasion. Growing pains were the most common ‘cause’ given for limb pains. Limb pain and growing pains were each associated with a family history of arthritis and rheumatism. Limb pain prevalence may have been under-reported in this study due to gradual attrition, particularly in the less educated mothers among whom the highest prevalence of limb pain was reported.

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