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Paediatr Child Health. 2019 Sep;24(6):383-394. doi: 10.1093/pch/pxz036. Epub 2019 May 4.

Probiotics for paediatric functional abdominal pain disorders: A rapid review.

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Department of Pediatrics & Child Health, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.



Functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPD) are prevalent in the paediatric population, however, there is currently no consensus regarding best practices for treatment. The use of probiotics is becoming popular to treat FAPD. The goal of this rapid review is to synthesize the best evidence on the use of probiotics in children with FAPD.


Searches were conducted on five main databases. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of probiotic use in children (0 to 18 years) with FAPD were searched. Populations of interest were patients with functional abdominal pain (FAP), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and functional dyspepsia (FD), recruited based on Rome criteria. Outcomes of interest were changes in abdominal pain severity, frequency, and duration.


Eleven RCTs with 829 participants with the diagnosis of FAP (n=400), IBS (n=329), FD (n=45), and mixed population (n=55) were included. Of six studies of children with FAP, two (n=103) used Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and reported no significant effects on pain, and four (n=281) used Lactobacillus (L) reuteri DSM 17938, of which three (n=229) reported significant positive effects on either severity or frequency of pain. Of six trials of children with IBS, four (n=219) used LGG, of which three (n=168) reported a positive effect. One (n=48) used bifidobacteria and one used VSL #3 (n=59), both demonstrating positive effects with probiotics. Two studies of FD reported no benefit. No adverse events were attributed to probiotics.


There is preliminary evidence for use of probiotics, particularly LGG, in reducing abdominal pain in children with IBS. There are inconsistent positive effects of other probiotics, including L. reuteri DSM 17938, in reducing pain in patients with FAP, IBS, or FD. More RCTs with rigorous methodology using single or combination probiotics are warranted.


Abdominal pain; Paediatrics; Probiotics; Review

[Available on 2020-09-01]

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