Objective: To assess the prevalence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in children affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Study design: Consecutive children affected by IBS according to Rome II criteria (n = 43) were enrolled at the Gemelli Hospital, Catholic University of Rome. The control population (n = 56) consisted of healthy subjects without IBS symptoms, similar to patients for age, sex, and social background. All subjects underwent lactulose/methane breath test (LBT) to assess small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Results: The prevalence of abnormal LBT result was significantly higher in patients with IBS (65%, 28/43) with respect to control subjects (7%, 4/56; OR 3.9, 95% CI 7.3-80.1, P < .00001). Patients with abnormal LBT showed a trend toward a worse visual analog scale score with respect to children with IBS without SIBO, but a significant statistical difference was observed only for bloating.
Conclusions: Results from this study suggest a significant epidemiologic association between SIBO and IBS in childhood. Placebo-controlled interventional studies with antibiotics used to treat bacterial overgrowth are warranted to clarify the real impact of the disease on IBS symptoms.