Probiotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Clinical Data in Children

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016 Jul:63 Suppl 1:S25-6. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001220.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review was to summarize the evidence regarding probiotics treatment for pediatric IBS.

Recent findings: The overall management of children with IBS should be tailored to the patient's specific symptoms and identifiable triggers. The four major therapeutic approaches include: pharmacologic, dietary, psychosocial, and complementary/alternative medicine interventions.Although there is limited evidence for efficacy of pharmacological therapies such as antispasmodics and anti-diarrheals, these may have a role in severe cases. A Cochrane review concluded that only weak evidence exists regarding beneficial effects of pharmacological agents in providing relief from symptoms in functional abdominal pain (AP) in children. Role of antibiotics in treatment of children with IBS remains controversial. Various non-pharmacologic treatments are available for pediatric IBS. In a recent systematic review including 24 studies some evidence was found indicating beneficial effects of partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG), cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, and probiotics (LGG and VSL#3).Few randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are available in children. A meta-analysis including 9 trials which tested different probiotics as a treatment for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs) in children and adolescents concluded that Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 and VSL#3 significantly increased treatment success. We recently showed that, in children with IBS, a mixture of Bifidobacterium infantis M-63®, breve M-16V® and longum BB536® is safe and is associated with better AP control and improved quality of life when compared to placebo.

Summary: Probiotics are emerging as new therapeutic tools in FGIDs, due to the recognition of the importance of gut microbiota in influencing brain-gut interactions, and of the role played by intestinal infections in the genesis of AP-FGIDs. Preclinical data suggest that changes in the gut microbiota can affect brain signaling systems related to pain and associated emotional behavior. Therefore, probiotics could play a relevant role in the management of FGIDs, by affecting the gut microbiota or by altering brain function and pain perception centrally.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*