Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 and a placebo both significantly reduced symptoms in children with functional abdominal pain

Acta Paediatr. 2017 Nov;106(11):1857-1862. doi: 10.1111/apa.13992. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Aim: Lactobacillus reuteri is a Gram-positive bacterium that naturally inhabits the human intestinal tract. This study assessed how effectively the probiotic L. reuteri DSM 17938 managed childhood functional abdominal pain (FAP).

Methods: We recruited 54 children with a mean age 9.1 ± 3.8 years, who were diagnosed with FAP in the outpatient clinics of three university hospitals in Greece, Slovenia and Poland, according to the Rome III criteria, from January 2013 to December 2015. They were randomly assigned to receive either 2 × 108 colony-forming units of L. reuteri (n = 27) or a placebo (n = 27) for four weeks.

Results: Both L. reuteri and the placebo significantly reduced the frequency and intensity of abdominal pain episodes at four and eight weeks compared to baseline (all p < 0.001). L. reuteri decreased the use of pain relieving drugs at four weeks and the number of child school and adult work absences at four and eight weeks, unlike the placebo, which achieved nonsignificant results. However, the difference between the groups did not reach significance. No side effects were recorded.

Conclusion: Both L. reuteri and the placebo were effective in alleviating pain in children with FAP, but only L. reuteri improved the child's and family's normal activities.

Keywords: Lactobacillus reuteri; Functional abdominal pain; Pain relief; Placebo; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus reuteri*
  • Male
  • Probiotics*