Probiotic shows child constipation potential: Pilot study

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

The probiotic Bifidobacterium breve may be effective in increasing stool frequency in children with functional constipation, according to a new pilot study.

The research, published in Nutrition Journal,​ showed that intake of Bifidobacterium breve​ over four weeks significantly increased the defecation frequency, consistency, and reduced abdominal pain.

“This small pilot study suggests that Bifidobacterium breve is effective in the treatment of childhood constipation,”​ said the authors, led by Merit Tabbers from Emma Children's Hospital/Academic Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

“Based on our results and their safety profile, adding probiotics to the standard treatment of functional constipation in otherwise healthy children is promising,”​ they added.

Probiotic potential

The authors said that functional constipation “is a common and frustrating problem in childhood”,​ with an estimated prevalence of 3 percent in the western world. It is said to cause distress to child and family, and can result in severe emotional disturbance.

Tabbers and colleagues noted that the use of probiotics has entered mainstream medicine and proven an effective therapy in many different gastrointestinal disorders, including functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Previous studies in constipated adults with Bifidus​ yoghurt, containing Bifidobacterium breve​, Bifidobacterium bifidum​ and Lactobacillus acidophilus​, have shown significant increases in defecation frequency without any side effects in adults.

“Based on the positive data in constipated adults, we therefore performed a pilot study to determine if Bifidobacterium breve is effective in the treatment of children with constipation,”​ said the authors.

Study details

Twenty children aged three to 16, with functional constipation one sachet of powder, containing 108- 1010 CFU Bifidobacterium breve​ per day.

Tabbers and co-workers found abdominal pain episodes per week significantly decreased after taking Bifidobacterium breve, ​with no side effects.

Defecation frequency per week was reported to significantly increase, from 0.9 (0-2) at baseline to 4.9 (0-21) at the fourth week.

In addition, the authors reported mean stool consistency score to increase from 2.6 at baseline to 3.5 at week four.

“Since this study shows promising results it is worthwhile to perform a large randomized controlled trial to unravel the efficacy of Bifidobacterium breve in constipated children,”​ concluded the authors.

Source: Nutrition Journal
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-19
“Is Bifidobacterium breve effective in the treatment of childhood constipation? Results from a pilot study”
Authors: M.M. Tabbers, I de Milliano, M.G. Roseboom, M.A. Benning

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