Weak Support For Probiotics in Acute Gastroenteritis

Two recent well-controlled studies (D Schnadower et al.N Engl J Med 2018; 379:2002-2014, SB Freedman et al. N Engl J Med 2018; 379:2015-2026) showed that probiotic-treated children with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) did not have better outcomes than placebo-treated children. In addition, a recent AGA practice guideline recommended against the use of probiotics for most GI conditions, including in AGE.

However, a new report (H Szajewska et al. JPGN 2020; 71; 261-69) from an ESPGHAN  working group recommends that probiotics should have a role for AGE.  Several points about this report:

  1. Their recommendations are very qualified: “weak recommendation” with “low to very low certainty of evidence” for the following in descending order: S boulardiii, L rhamnosis GG, L reuteri DSM 17938, and L rhamnosus 19070 & L reuteri DSM 12246
  2. It is noted that this report has a disclaimer from ESPGHAN: “it does not represent ESPGHAN policy and is not endorsed by ESPGHAN”
  3. The authors have extensive disclosures
  4. The report notes that “despite large number of identified trials, we could not identify 2 randomized controlled trials of high quality for any strain that provided benefit when used for treating acute gastroenteritis”

Of note, the associated editorial (pg 146-47) also favors probiotics in the setting of AGE.  “These recommendations…have clarified that there is a role for probiotics in treating” AGE.

Related article (just published): F Mourney et al. The Pediatric Infectious Disease JournalAugust 7, 2020 – Volume Online First – Issue –doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000002849 A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Saccharomyces boulardii in Infants and Children With Acute Diarrhea (n=100) Key findings: The time of recovery from diarrhea was significantly shorter in the probiotic group compared with the placebo group (65.8 ± 12 hours vs. 95.3 ± 17.6 hours, P = 0.0001).

My take: Overall, probiotic effectiveness is overstated; though, some strains may be helpful for AGE.  Still, there are concerns about variation in production and quality standards even in these strains.

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2 thoughts on “Weak Support For Probiotics in Acute Gastroenteritis

  1. Pingback: Why We Are Not Making Progress with Probiotics | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Cochrane Review: Probiotics NOT Proven Effective for Acute Gastroenteritis | gutsandgrowth

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