Our aim was to determine whether Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) relieves symptoms in children with recurrent abdominal pain.
A total of 141 children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or functional pain were enrolled in 9 primary care sites and a referral center. Children entered a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial and received LGG or placebo for 8 weeks and entered follow-up for 8 weeks. The primary outcome was overall pain at the end of the intervention period. At entry and at the end of the trial, children underwent a double-sugar intestinal permeability test.
Compared with baseline, LGG, but not placebo, caused a significant reduction of both frequency (P < .01) and severity (P < .01) of abdominal pain. These differences still were significant at the end of follow-up (P < .02 and P < .001, respectively). At week 12, treatment success was achieved in 48 children in the LGG group compared with 37 children in the placebo group (P < .03); this difference still was present at the end of follow-up (P < .03). At entry, 59% of the children had abnormal results from the intestinal permeability test; LGG, but not placebo, determined a significant decrease in the number of patients with abnormal results from the intestinal permeability testing (P < .03). These effects mainly were in children with IBS.
LGG significantly reduces the frequency and severity of abdominal pain in children with IBS; this effect is sustained and may be secondary to improvement of the gut barrier.