Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not the use of probiotics treat abdominal pain in children between the ages of 4 and 18 with irritable bowel syndrome.

STUDY DESIGN: Systemic review of three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published after 2007, all English language.

DATA SOURCES: All three randomized controlled trials were found on PubMed and were selected based on relevance to the proposed clinical question.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Main outcomes measured were duration with and without abdominal pain, severity of pain, postprandial swelling, belching-abdominal distention, difficulty in defecation, urgent defecation, and feeling of incomplete defecation. Outcomes were measured by using Wonger-Baker FACES pain rating scale, five-point likert scale, and a self-reported questionnaire.

RESULTS: Two studies found no significant improvement in abdominal pain or discomfort when comparing probiotics to placebo when treating irritable bowel syndrome. One study found a significant improvement in abdominal pain when comparing probiotics to placebo. When looking at efficacy of probiotics, two studies had a relatively low number needed to treat.

CONCLUSION: From the three randomized controlled trials, it can be concluded that treating children with irritable bowel syndrome between the age of 4 and 16 with probiotics is inconclusive. Further research is warranted.