Do Children Just Grow Out of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

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Few data exist on natural history of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children; therefore we investigated symptoms evolution over time in a cohort of children with IBS.

Study design

In this observational, single-center study, we prospectively enrolled newly diagnosed children with IBS and reassessed them after 24 months. At both time points, patients completed a symptoms questionnaire, and a score of stool consistency was obtained. The therapeutic strategy adopted was also recorded.


Eighty-three children (age 11 years, range, 4-16.6 years; 53 males) completed the study. Forty-seven (56.6%) patients received no medical treatment, whereas polyethylene glycol, probiotics, and trimebutine were prescribed to 9 (10.8%), 24 (28.9%), and 3 (3.6%) subjects, respectively. Twenty-four months after diagnosis, 48 children (57.8%) reported resolution of symptoms (P < .001), without differences between sexes (P = .35) or among IBS subtypes (P = .49). Of these, 30 (62.5%) had been only reassured and 18 (37.5%) had been prescribed medical treatment (P = .26).


Despite not being statistically significant, symptoms resolution was more common in patients receiving no medical treatment than in those receiving probiotics (63.8% vs 41.6%, P = .08).


Among patients with constipation-IBS, no difference was found in symptoms resolution between patients receiving polyethylene glycol and those receiving no medical treatment (67% and 40%, respectively, P = 1).


Children with IBS are likely to show spontaneous symptoms resolution over a 24-month follow-up, regardless of sex, age, impact of symptoms on daily activities, and IBS subtypes.

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