Pain experienced during childhood can lead to chronic pain in adulthood, according to recent research.

The mid-May annual meeting of the American Pain Society featured research showing that children who complained of multiple symptoms in childhood, including abdominal pain and headache, were three times more likely to have chronic pain problems as adults than children who infrequently complained about pain.

Another childhood-adulthood link reported by Gary Macfarlane, M.D., professor of epidemiology at University of Aberdeen, Scotland, School of Medicine, is that babies who were treated in intensive care units and had invasive procedures showed reduced sensitivity to pain as children.

“Around age 10, individuals treated in ICUs as babies scored higher on pain threshold tests using heat as the pain stimulus, demonstrating that early pain experiences might influence how you perceive pain later” he said.

Macfarlane’s research focused on 17,000 British children who were born in 1958 and who have been studied to adulthood. The American Pain Society is a multidisciplinary community of scientists, clinicians and other professionals working to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.