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December 12, 2011
Toxic Foods, Drinks and Lifestyle Are Causing Persistent, Chronic Pain in Children and Teens

It is a verifiable fact that adults and seniors are suffering more chronic pain today than ever before, but new research on children and adolescents shows that progressively younger age groups are experiencing the same symptoms as adults due diet and lifestyle related toxicity.

Children who suffer from persistent or recurring chronic pain may miss school, withdraw from social activities, and are at risk of developing internalizing symptoms such as anxiety, in response to their pain. In the first comprehensive review of chronic pain in children and adolescents in 20 years, a group of researchers found that more children now are suffering from chronic pain and that girls suffer more frequently from chronic pain than boys.

Diet and lifestyle related toxicity caused by unhealthy foods, juices, milk, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, MSG, chemical additives in foods and vaccines, electromagnetic sensitivity, root canals, medications and anything that poisons the body is now causing widespread pain across younger populations.

Decades ago, previous studies showed that less than 2% of children and adolescents experienced debilitating pain such as severe headaches. Headaches are now found to be the most common studied pain type in youth, with an estimated prevalence rate of 23%.

"We found that persistent and recurrent chronic pain is overwhelmingly prevalent in children and adolescents, with girls generally experiencing more pain than boys and prevalence rates increasing with age," said lead investigator Sara King, PhD, currently Assistant Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Findings such as these argue that researchers and clinicians should be aware of the problem and the long-term consequences of chronic pain in children."

Studies have shown that children suffering with this kind of chronic pain frequently become emotionally distressed and have a heightened sense of vulnerability, which can have a major impact on parents and siblings.

"Many people used to think that chronic pain was a uniquely adult problem, but recent epidemiological studies have shown that a number of children are severely affected by pain," said Professor Christopher Eccleston, Director of the Pain Management Unit at the University of Bath.

Researchers from Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre, Halifax, systematically examined epidemiological studies of pain to evaluate progress made since the first comprehensive review of pain in children and adolescents, published by Goodman and McGrath in PAIN in 1991. Additionally, they identified a set of criteria to assess the quality of the studies included in the review. They looked at 32 studies and categorized them according to the type of pain investigated: headache, abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, combined pain, and general pain.

Pain prevalence rates tend to increase with age. Psychosocial variables impacting pain prevalence included anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and low socioeconomic status. The overall results indicated that these pain types are highly prevalent in children and adolescents, with median prevalence rates ranging from 11% to 38%. "These rates are of great concern, but what is even more concerning is that research suggests that the prevalence rates of childhood pain have increased over the last several decades," stated Dr. King.

Researchers also found that many studies did not meet quality criteria and there was great variability in prevalence rates across studies due to time periods over which pain was reported. The authors suggest that future epidemiological studies in this area are in need of better operational definitions of pain and better measures of pain intensity, frequency, and duration. Such quality criteria across studies would allow for direct comparison.

Other significant areas of research involve the effects of genetically modifieds foods and toxic processed foods with chemicals which may be aggravating pain in younger groups.

"This is the first generation of children who are so saturated with toxins from genetically modified and processed foods, that we have no real data on the long-term effects as they become adults," said research scientist Dr. Eugene Barati. "Chemical additives in the food supply such as aspartame, msg and other excitotoxins are a major source of toxicity and subsequent pain," he added.

By analyzing several demographic and psychosocial factors associated with high prevalence rates of specific pain types, it may be possible to identify the most toxic and salient risk factors, leading to further research and possibly the restriction of these toxins in specific groups.

Controlled trials with a focus on safety, as well as efficacy, are urgently needed for all conditions of childhood and adolescence that are characterised by chronic or recurrent pain. The foods and drinks ingested are certainly a major cause of concern and likely the primary instigator of recurring pain.

Since the incidence of chronic pain in children is similar to that of adults, our knowledge needs to expand rapidly on how to help children cope with chronic pain.

Given the probability that that many children with untreated chronic pain will grow into adults disabled by chronic pain, this lack of knowledge potentially has a high societal cost.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.


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