CINCINNATI -- If you’re worried your child’s frequent stomach aches are more than a little discomfort, you could be onto something.
Doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say they're seeing more cases of acute pancreatitis in children.
A medical team including Dr. Maisam Abu-El-Haija routinely see kids like Victoria Thomas at the hospital’s Pancreas Care Center.
Thomas says she’s always had really bad stomach pains. They were so bad sometimes that she would rank them nine on a scale of 10.
But general doctors underestimated her pain, she said.
“They said it was just a stomach pain and that it would go away, but it didn't,” she said.
Doctors say the most common reason is hereditary. Thomas’ brother also has acute pancreatitis.
Dr. Haija says Cincinnati Children’s offers regional expertise, which could be a reason for the spike in patients. Another reason could be that more doctors know what to test for.
“As people are searching more for those enzymes, they're diagnosing more cases, and that goes hand in hand … is this really an increased incidence of acute pancreatitis or has it always been that problem and we're just more aware because we're looking for it more,” Haija said.
Thomas has had hospital stays, but now, her pancreatitis is under control and she can go to school for full days.
Pancreatitis symptoms include sharp pains in the abdomen that could start suddenly and extend into the back, loss of appetite and vomiting.