Aim: To systematically evaluate and update evidence on the efficacy and safety of probiotic supplementation for the treatment of constipation.
Methods: The MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases were searched in May 2009 for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) performed in paediatric or adult populations related to the study aim.
Results: We included five RCTs with a total of 377 subjects (194 in the experimental group and 183 in the control group). The participants were adults (three RCTs, n = 266) and children (two RCTs, n = 111) with constipation. In adults, data suggests a favourable effect of treatment with Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010, Lactobacillus casei Shirota, and Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 on defecation frequency and stool consistency. In children, L. casei rhamnosus Lcr35, but not L. rhamnosus GG, showed a beneficial effect.
Conclusion: Until more data are available, we believe the use of probiotics for the treatment of constipation condition should be considered investigational.