Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects children’s quality of life and learning. The purpose of this research was to systematically evaluate the efficacy of probiotic adjuvant therapy for IBS in children.
The Web of Science, PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE and Clinical Trials databases were electronically searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published prior to January 2021 exploring the use of probiotic adjuvant therapy for IBS in children. Strict screening and quality evaluations of the eligible articles were performed independently by 2 researchers. Outcome indexes were extracted, and a meta-analysis of the data was performed using RevMan 5.4.1 and STATA 16 software. Finally, the risk of bias in the included studies was assessed with the RCT bias risk assessment tool recommended in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (5.1.0).
A total of nine RCTs were included. In children, probiotics significantly reduced the abdominal pain score (I2 = 95%, SMD = -1.15, 95% (-2.05, -0.24), P = 0.01) and Subject’s Global Assessment of Relief (SGARC) score (I2 = 95%, MD = -3.84, 95% (-6.49, -1.20), P = 0.004), increased the rate of abdominal pain treatment success (I2 = 0%, RR = 3.44, 95% (1.73, 6.87), P = 0.0005) and abdominal pain relief (I2 = 40%, RR = 1.48, 95% (0.96, 2.28), P = 0.08), and reduced the frequency of abdominal pain (I2 = 2%, MD = -0.82, 95% (-1.57, -0.07), P = 0.03). However, we found that it might not be possible to relieve abdominal pain by increasing the daily intake of probiotics.
Probiotics are effective at treating abdominal pain caused by IBS in children, however, there was no significant correlation between abdominal pain and the amount of probiotics ingested. More attention should be given to IBS in children, and a standardized evaluation should be adopted.