Probiotics prevent diarrhoea related to antibiotic use

May 30, 2013

Probiotic supplements have the potential to prevent diarrhoea caused by antibiotics, according to a new Cochrane systematic review. The authors studied Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections in patients taking antibiotics and found symptoms of diarrhoea were substantially reduced when patients were also treated with probiotics.

Antibiotics disturb the that live in the gut and allow other like C. difficile to take hold. Although some people infected with C. difficile show no symptoms, others suffer or colitis. The so-called "" or yeast in probiotic foods and supplements may offer a safe, low-cost way to help prevent C. difficile-associated diarrhoea (CDAD). This finding is important because CDAD is expensive to treat.

CDAD cases were reported in 23 trials involving 4,213 adults and children. Probiotics taken in conjunction with antibiotics reduced the number of people who suffered diarrhoea by 64%. Only 2% of participants who took probiotics had CDAD compared to nearly 6% of those who took placebo. In 26 trials reporting on adverse events, there were fewer adverse events in the group taking probiotics.

"In the short-term, taking probiotics in conjunction with antibiotics appears to be a safe and effective way of preventing diarrhoea associated with Clostridium difficile infection," said lead researcher Bradley Johnston of The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, Canada. "The introduction of some probiotic regimens as adjuncts to antibiotics could have an immediate impact on , especially in outbreak settings. However, we still need to establish the probiotic strains and doses that provide the best results, and determine the safety of probiotics in ."

Although taking probiotics in combination with antibiotics helped to prevent CDAD, it did not reduce the number of people who were infected with C. difficile. "We think it's possible that probiotics act to prevent the symptoms of C. difficile infection rather than to prevent the infection itself," said Johnston. "This possibility needs to be investigated further in future trials, which should help us to understand more about how probiotics work."

Explore further: Probiotics show potential to minimize C. difficile

More information: Goldenberg JZ, Ma SSY, Saxton JD, Martzen MR, Vandvik PO, Thorlund K, Guyatt GH, Johnston BC. Probiotics for the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults and children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD006095. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006095.pub3

Related Stories

Probiotics show potential to minimize C. difficile

November 13, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—New cases of C. difficile-associated diarrhea among hospitalized patients taking antibiotics can be reduced by two-thirds with the use of probiotics, according to new research published Monday in the Annals ...

Could probiotics help HIV patients?

January 16, 2013

Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are the first line therapy for patients with HIV; however, ARV-treated, HIV-infected individuals still have a higher mortality rate than uninfected individuals. During the course of infection, HIV ...

Recommended for you

Ebola linked to habitat destruction

February 20, 2017

A Massey University veterinary scientist has co-authored research suggesting that Ebola virus emergence is linked to the clearing of animal habitat through deforestation in West and Central Africa.

New study determines how long Zika remains in body fluids

February 20, 2017

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides evidence that the Zika virus particles remain longer in blood than in urine and some other body fluids. This information suggests that blood serum may be the ...

Researcher helps stem the spread of superbugs

February 20, 2017

Katherine Baker feels vindicated. She and other microbiologists have been warning for years that anti-bacterial soaps containing triclosan are bad for the environment, harmful for health, and do nothing to prevent disease.

Scientists uncover how Zika virus causes microcephaly

February 17, 2017

A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.