The brain-gut axis

Lise Delabie wrote at the-low-countries.com on 26.8.20:

“…We experience the death of Matthies (in The Discomfort of Evening) through the eyes of ten-year-old Jas. She is in the bath with her sister Hanna, her brother Obbe sitting on the bath’s edge, when the vet comes bearing the news: ‘Evertsen pulled him out of the lake.’ The ice Matthies had been skating on was too thin. Hanna doesn’t understand. She keeps making happy waves, and Jas pees in the water. The Christmas tree is being dismantled…

Childlike logic is both the charm and cruelty of the novel. Jas, for example, connects her bowel problems with her separation anxiety…”

From: Rajindrajith S, Devanarayana NM, Crispus Perera BJ, Benninga MA. Childhood constipation as an emerging public health problem. World J Gastroenterol (2016):

“Functional constipation (FC) is a significant health problem in children and contrary to common belief, has serious ramifications on the lives of children and their families…

Klooker et al, also noted that children exposed to the Second World War had a higher tendency to develop IBS as adults. Although the exact mechanisms are not entirely understood, it is possible that under such circumstances, stress mediated alterations of both the brain-gut axis as well as the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis contribute to the development of abnormal colonic and rectal function, leading to the development of constipation or IBS…

A Dutch study showed that older children with parents having high autonomy scores had a considerably lower defecation frequency than children with parents scoring in the reference group…

Child maltreatment leads to severe psychological stress in the child. Stress may lead to permanent alteration in gastro-intestinal motility, visceral sensitivity, alterations in autonomic function and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal dysfunction…

The role of psychological and emotional components in the aetiology of FC is a matter of debate. Some argue that emotional problems are the result of FC, while others believe that they play an important role in the aetiology. Using the child behavioural checklist a Dutch study noted that these children had a number of abnormal behavioural traits. Other studies showed that these children do have certain abnormal personality traits and have a higher tendency for anxiety disorders. These factors may affect their social and family life in an adverse manner…”

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