Background: Chronic abdominal pain (CAP) in children, a condition that accounts for approximately 25% of pediatric gastroenterology office visits, may be a precursor to irritable bowel syndrome in adults. Recently, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been reported in 78-84% of IBS patients regardless of their abdominal symptoms, compared to 20% in healthy controls. Aims The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the prevalence of SIBO in children with CAP.
Methods: Seventy-five children aged 8-18 years diagnosed with CAP based on the Rome II criteria and 40 healthy controls were enrolled. All subjects underwent a lactulose breath hydrogen test (LBT) to assess for SIBO. Children with CAP also filled out symptom questionnaires.
Results: There was a 91% prevalence of an abnormal LBT suggestive of SIBO in the children with CAP and 35% in controls (odds ratio = 16.7, 95% confidence interval 6.0-57.5, P < 0.0001). A comparison of CAP children with a positive LBT to CAP children with a negative LBT revealed the former had significantly more "urgency to have a bowel movement" (P = 0.049) and experienced less "soiling" (P = 0.016) than those with a negative LBT. No significant differences were found between the two groups in terms of the location of their pain or any other associated symptoms.
Conclusions: Similar to adults with IBS, there is a significantly higher prevalence of SIBO in children with CAP. Randomized controlled studies are needed to determine if eradication of SIBO will lead to symptom improvement in these patients.