Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), a letter in the Lancet (1:636) suggests, may be like Thalidomide in its ability to cause human birth defects. The letter reports the birth of a child with nearly total absence of the right lower leg, the type of defect seen so often in babies whose mothers, during pregnancy, had taken Thalidomide.
By itself, this report would not be sufficient to incriminate pyridoxine as the cause of birth defects (it could have been a coincidence), but viewed in the context of pyridoxine’s other known side effects, it looks highly suspicious. Given repeatedly in large enough doses, both Thalidomide and pyridoxine, it has been found, cause almost the same type of nerve damage in the limbs, with numbness and tingling in the “stocking and glove” areas, progressing to weakness and instability in walking.
To pinpoint its cause, recurrent abdominal pain must be associated with other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, blood or mucus in the stools, fever, and failure to gain weight, painful urination, ingesting inedible substances (pica), or anaemia. Also important is the pattern of the pain – where it is, when it occurs, how long it lasts.
In general, recurrent abdominal pain that is accompanied by no other symptoms or has no set pattern is probably not serious.
If constipation is the cause of the pain, correct it by changing your child’s diet or using a glycerin suppository. If milk seems to be the cause, eliminate milk and milk products from the diet for one or two weeks; then add milk to the diet again and observe the effects. If emotional stress is responsible, try to eliminate the stress. Most important, note and record the pattern of recurrent abdominal pain and any other symptoms that occur before consulting your doctor.
• Recurrent abdominal pain due to emotional stress is real and requires treatment just as much as pain due to an identifiable physical condition.
• Do not try to relieve stomach pain by giving laxatives or placing ice on the stomach.
Your doctor will take a careful history of your child’s recent health and perform a complete physical examination. Frequently the doctor will order urine, stool, and blood tests. If the cause of the pain still is not clear, X rays of the stomach, large and small bowels, and the urinary tract may be required. If X rays provide no clues to the problem your child may be hospitalized for extensive blood tests and an internal abdominal examination.