The team investigated the effects of probiotics in the treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children.
They conducted a systematic review to assess the evidence from randomized controlled trials, and reported their findings in the October issue of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.
Acute diarrhea was defined as more than 3 loose or watery stools per 24 hours.
The use of probiotics, as compared with placebo, was found to be associated with a significantly reduced risk of diarrhea lasting more than 3 days.
The pooled estimate risk was 0.43 with a fixed-effect model, and remained significant in a random-effect model (0.40).
The researchers found that only Lactobacillus GG showed a consistent effect.
Probiotics significantly reduced the duration of diarrhea when compared with placebo (mean reduction, 20 hours), particularly in rotaviral gastroenteritis (25 hours).
| Probiotics significantly reduced the duration of diarrhea.
| Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition |
A meta-analysis of the prevention studies was not feasible because of significant clinical and statistical heterogeneity.
Author H. Szajewska, of the Medical University of Warsaw, said on behalf of the group, "There is evidence of a clinically significant benefit of probiotics in the treatment of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children, particularly in rotaviral gastroenteritis.
"Lactobacillus GG showed the most consistent effect, although other probiotic strains may also be effective. Further research is needed."
"Clinical and statistical heterogeneity of the prophylactic interventions preclude drawing firm conclusions about the efficacy of probiotics in preventing acute gastroenteritis," it was concluded.