Probiotics may prevent diarrhoea due to antibiotics

The probiotics Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii (a yeast) are better than placebo in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, according to a recent meta-analysis.

The investigators looked at nine randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of probiotics carried out during 1966-2000, including two investigating the effects of probiotics in children.

On combining the studies’ results, the yeast was found to prevent 39 per cent of cases of diarrhoea due to antibiotic treatment, and the lactobacilli, 34 per cent.

Probiotics have a number of advantages, including a relatively low cost, few adverse effects and increasing commercial availability as capsules and yoghurt-based drinks (BMJ, 2002; 324: 1361-4).

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