Research adds weight to growing pains in children

University of South Australia researchers have discovered that young children experiencing growing pains had significantly greater body weight than children for whom no pain was reported.

While little has been known about the profile of children affected by growing pains, it is a common childhood condition that results in frequent visits to health professionals, according to researcher Dr Angela Evans from UniSA's School of Health Science.

"It's a much bigger problem than first thought, with our study indicating about one child in every three is affected," Dr Evans said.

"Children who are otherwise healthy can be described as having growing pains when they experience recurrent leg pain and aches in both legs. It is important to note that these pains occur in the muscle groups, not in the joints, which differentiates them from more serious conditions.

"Growing pains typically start late in the day, particularly at night, and seem more likely to occur after increased activity. The level of distress varies from complaints by some children to distress and crying by others, depending on the intensity of the pain. In terms of frequency, it seems to occur in spates. It may occur four times in a week and then not at all for a month, making it difficult to monitor," Dr Evans said.

Researchers conducted the large study involving a random sample of children aged 4 to 6 years from primary schools and childcare centres across South Australia's metropolitan and rural regions.

"Children in this age group are purported to be the most affected by growing pains but have been the least studied," Dr Evans said.

"This is the first time that research has focused specifically on young children."

Parents completed specially developed questionnaires on the prevalence of growing pains in their children, and researchers conducted height, weight and other measures that included assessing the foot posture of the

Contact: Geraldine Hinter
Research Australia

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