Probiotics Helpful in Reducing Antibiotic-Related Diarrhea

More research needed to determine which probiotics are effective for specific antibiotics

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Probiotics seem to be effective in preventing and treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD), but more research is needed to know which probiotics are most effective for specific antibiotics, according to research published in the May 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Susanne Hempel, Ph.D., from RAND Health in Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review using searches of 12 electronic databases and a meta-analysis of 82 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of probiotics (Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and/or Bacillus).

The researchers found that the majority of included studies used Lactobacillus-based interventions alone or in combination with other genera and that strains were poorly documented. The pooled relative risk of 63 RCTs that included 11,811 participants indicated a statistically significant association between probiotic administration and reduction in AAD (relative risk, 0.58; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.50 to 0.68; number needed to treat, 13). This result was relatively insensitive to subgroup analyses. The evidence is insufficient to identify if this association varies systematically by population, antibiotic characteristic, or probiotic preparation.

"The pooled evidence suggests that probiotics are associated with a reduction in AAD. More research is needed to determine which probiotics are associated with the greatest efficacy and for which patients receiving which specific antibiotics," the authors write.

Several authors are employed by RAND Health, which funded the study.

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