Use and safety of rifaximin in children with inflammatory bowel disease

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009 Oct;49(4):400-4. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181a0d269.


Background: Rifaximin, Food and Drug Administration approved for traveler's diarrhea, has been used in adult patients with active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This retrospective review was undertaken to determine its role in the treatment of pediatric IBD.

Methods: A review of children with IBD, who were treated with rifaximin from 2005 to 2007 at our institution, was performed. Collected data included diagnosis, age, medication history, recent therapy, symptom, and interval to improvement. Response was rated as none, moderate, or optimum relief for each symptom.

Results: Twenty-three patients were identified, 12 with Crohn disease and 11 with ulcerative colitis (UC) with a median age of 13 years. The most common complaints were diarrhea in 20 patients (87%), abdominal pain in 17 (74%), and bloody stools in 15 (65%). Rifaximin was given at doses ranging between 10 and 30 mg/kg (Table 1). Of the 20 patients who presented with diarrhea 5 (25%) had relief of diarrhea within 1 week of starting rifaximin and total of 12 patients (60%) experienced relief within 4 weeks. Abdominal pain resolved in 3 of 17 patients (17.6%) within 1 week and in 12 of 17 (70.6%) within 4 weeks. Visible bleeding resolved in 10 of 15 patients (66.7%) within 4 weeks of therapy (Table 2). Analysis of concurrent medications showed 61% experienced relief of symptoms when addition of rifaximin was the only meaningful treatment change.

Conclusions: Rifaximin was well-tolerated and showed favorable results. Larger doses of rifaximin were statistically better for abdominal pain. Further studies are needed to evaluate efficacy and optimal dosing of rifaximin in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / drug therapy
  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / complications
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Hemorrhage / drug therapy
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rifamycins / adverse effects
  • Rifamycins / therapeutic use*
  • Rifaximin
  • Young Adult


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Rifamycins
  • Rifaximin