Severe behavioral problems in childhood that persist through adolescence are associated with long-term chronic widespread pain (CWP) in adult life according to data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study, which included nearly 20,000 people.

Investigators at the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, found that children with severe behavior disturbances had approximately double the risk for CWP by the time they reached 45 years of age compared with their counterparts who did not have behavioral problems as children.

Dong Pang, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen reported the study online March 10 in Rheumatology.

“We already know that childhood behavior problems are associated with psychiatric problems, such as depression and anxiety, in later life. Our study shows that chronic widespread pain may be another unrealized consequence in adult life. The childhood behavior problems appear to be associated with a broader spectrum of ill-health than we originally thought. More studies are needed,” Dr. Pang told Medscape Psychiatry.

Further, the researchers report that the association was not explained by social class, early reporting of symptoms, or an already-known link between adult psychological distress and CWP.