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Probiotics ‘reduce antibiotic associated diarrhoea’

Probiotics are an effective therapy for treating and preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, says results of a new meta-analysis.

The US study included 63 trials that compared probiotic use as adjunct to antibiotic treatment against a control group receiving no treatment, placebo or a different probiotic or probiotic dose.

In those studies, patients taking probiotics were 42% less likely to develop diarrhoea compared with patients not taking probiotics.

When restricting the analysis to trials that explicitly aimed to prevent or treat antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, patients taking probiotics were again 42% less likely to contract this condition than those not taking the probiotics.

The few trials that reported incidence of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea after cessation of antibiotic treatment found the probiotics groups were 56% less likely to experience the condition after treatment, when compared with controls.

Study lead Dr Susanne Hempel, a researcher at RAND Health in California, said: ‘Our review found sufficient evidence to conclude that adjunct probiotic administration is associated with a reduced risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.'

Journal of the American Medical Association 2012; 307: 1959-1969