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Probiotics Have Varying Efficacy in Childhood Diarrhea

Study of five different preparations shows efficacy in only two

FRIDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Not all probiotic preparations are effective in the treatment of children with acute diarrhea. Their efficacy appears to depend on which strains of bacteria they contain, according to the results of a randomized trial published online Aug. 9 in BMJ.

Alfredo Guarino, M.D., of the University of Naples in Naples, Italy, and colleagues randomly assigned 571 children aged 3 months to 36 months to receive either oral rehydration alone or five days of treatment with a specific probiotic product: Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG; Saccharomyces boulardii; Bacillus clausii; mix of L. delbrueckii var bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum; or Enterococcus faecium SF68.

The researchers found that the median duration of diarrhea was significantly shorter in the subjects who received Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (78.5 hours) or the mix of four bacterial strains (70 hours) than in those who received oral hydration alone (115 hours). But they found that the other three preparations had no significant effect.

"We believe that probiotic preparations should be classified as drugs, and physicians should select preparations for which evidence of efficacy, in a given clinical condition, is supported by solid data," the authors conclude.

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