Taking daily doses of probiotics can help reduce episodes of diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in children at day care centers. This randomized, double-blinded trial published in Pediatrics evaluated 336 healthy children, aged 6 months to 3 years old, whom half received Lactobacillus reuteri (probiotic) and half received an identical placebo. During the 3 month study, there were 69 cases of diarrhea in the placebo group versus 42 cases in the supplement group. The placebo group also had 204 cases of respiratory tract infections with subjects spending an average of 4.1 days on antibiotics, while the L. reuteri group had 93 cases of respiratory tract infections and subjects spent an average of 2.7 days on antibiotics. Follow-up continued for 3 months after the trial without any supplements of probiotics. There seems to be a beneficial effect for children taking daily doses of L. reuteri to have a significant reduction in episodes of diarrhea as well as respiratory tract infections. What are your thoughts on giving infants and children probiotics to prevent possible illnesses?
For additional information, please see The New York Times.
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A new systematic review of 23 trials published by investigators from the Cochranne Collaboration evaluated 4,213 patients who were on antibiotics treatment for different reasons. Researchers concluded that 2% of patients when given probiotics developed C. difficile, compared with 6% of patients who were taking placebo. Additionally, people taking probiotics developed less abdominal side efeects compared to placebo. However, despite the preventive effect on diarrhea, taking probiotics did not entirely eliminate infections with C. difficile.What other indications do you recommend probiotics for? How do you feel about single versus multi-strain products?
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A meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reports that probiotics may prevent Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea (CDAD) in patients taking antibiotics. Data was pooled from 20 randomized controlled clinical trials evaluating probiotics compared to placebo or no treatment and the occurrence of CDAD. The results indicated that the occurrence of CDAD was decreased by 66% in those taking probiotics. What questions have you received from patients about the use of probiotics? What other indications do you recommend probiotics for?
For more information, please read the article in the Annals of Internal Medicine.