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Probiotics May Ease Kids' Belly Aches

A daily dose of "friendly bacteria" could provide relief for kids suffering from the cruel pain of a chronic tummy ache, suggests a new Italian study.

Between 10 and 15 percent of school-aged children suffer from frequent stomach pain. Yet little evidence exists to date for helpful medications or dietary changes, Dr. Ruggiero Francavilla of the University of Bari, in Italy, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

Given recent research hinting at the therapeutic value of probiotics for adults with stomach problems, particularly a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome that can cause pain and abnormal bowel movements, Francavilla and his team wanted to see if good bacteria might benefit kids too.

The team studied 141 Italian children between the ages of 5 and 14 suffering from chronic belly pain, mostly resulting from irritable bowel syndrome. They randomly assigned each child to daily doses of either a common strain of probiotic,

Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG, or a placebo that looked and tasted similar, for eight weeks.

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