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BACKGROUND: Gastroenteritis accounts for approximately 1.7 million visits to the emergency department (ED) by children in the United States every year. Data to determine whether the use of probiotics improves outcomes in these children are lacking.
METHODS: We conducted a randomized, double-blind trial involving 886 children 3 to 48 months of age with gastroenteritis who presented to six pediatric EDs in Canada. Participants received a 5-day course of a combination probiotic product containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 and L. helveticus R0052, at a dose of 4.0×109 colony-forming units twice daily or placebo. The primary outcome was moderate-to-severe gastroenteritis, which was defined according to a post-enrollment modified Vesikari scale symptom score of 9 or higher (scores range from 0 to 20, with higher scores indicating more severe disease). Secondary outcomes included the duration of diarrhea and vomiting, the percentage of children who had unscheduled physician visits, and the presence or absence of adverse events.
RESULTS: Moderate-to-severe gastroenteritis within 14 days after enrollment occurred in 108 of 414 participants (26.1%) who were assigned to probiotics and 102 of 413 participants (24.7%) who were assigned to placebo (odds ratio, 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.77 to 1.46; P=0.72). After adjustment for trial site, age, detection of rotavirus in stool, and frequency of diarrhea and vomiting before enrollment, trial-group assignment did not predict moderate-to-severe gastroenteritis (odds ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.76 to 1.49; P=0.74). There were no significant differences between the probiotic group and the placebo group in the median duration of diarrhea (52.5 hours [interquartile range, 18.3 to 95.8] and 55.5 hours [interquartile range, 20.2 to 102.3], respectively; P=0.31) or vomiting (17.7 hours [interquartile range, 0 to 58.6] and 18.7 hours [interquartile range, 0 to 51.6], P=0.18), the percentages of participants with unscheduled visits to a health care provider (30.2% and 26.6%; odds ratio, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.62; P=0.27), and the percentage of participants who reported an adverse event (34.8% and 38.7%; odds ratio, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.62 to 1.11; P=0.21).
CONCLUSIONS: In children who presented to the emergency department with gastroenteritis, twice-daily administration of a combined L. rhamnosus–L. helveticus probiotic did not prevent the development of moderate-to-severe gastroenteritis within 14 days after enrollment. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others; PROGUT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01853124.)
Stephen B Freedman
Stephen B Freedman
Stephen B Freedman,Sarah Williamson‑Urquhart,Ken J Farion,Serge Gouin,Andrew R Willan,Naveen Poonai,Katrina Hurley,Philip M Sherman,Yaron Finkelstein,Bonita E Lee,Xiao‑Li Pang,Linda Chui,David Schnadower,Jianling Xie,Marc Gorelick,Suzanne Schuh