Researchers at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA have found that low-dose antidepressant therapy can significantly improve the overall quality of life for adolescents suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
The syndrome affects 6 percent of middle school students and 14 percent of high school kids in the United States.
The study, published in the May issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatrics, is the first of its kind to look at the effects of amitriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, in the pediatric IBS population, researchers said.
The research was conducted between 2002 and 2005 and involved 33 newly diagnosed IBS patients, including 24 girls, between the ages of 12 and 18.
Irritable bowel syndrome causes discomfort in the abdomen, along with diarrhea, constipation or both. Currently, there is no cure, and treatments only lessen the symptoms.
"While research has shown that amitriptyline is effective for adults with IBS, only peppermint oil has been studied in children with this disorder in a double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion," said Dr. Ron J. Bahar, assistant clinical professor of pediatric gastroenterology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and lead author of the study. "Our results show that amitriptyline significantly improves overall quality-of-life measurements in adolescents and should be a therapeutic option for these patients. We were actually surprised to reach our conclusion with a relatively small number of subjects."
The 13-week study consisted of three phases: two weeks of enrollment and symptom scoring, eight weeks of therapy with amitriptyline or a placebo, and three weeks of post-medication "washout" and symptom scoring.
Patients were randomized in a double-blinded fashion to receive the antidepressant or a placebo and were surveyed at two, six, 10 and 13 weeks using a symptom checklist, a pain-rating scale, a pain intensity and frequency scale,
|Contact: Amy Albin|
University of California - Los Angeles