Here are 2 Cochrane reviews that evaluate the evidence for using probiotics to treat persistent diarrhea, and the value of probiotics + rehydration to treat diarrhea.

Let’s start with persistent diarrhea, a condition that lasts 2 weeks or more and is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children under 5 years old in developing countries throughout the world.

First, the details.

  • 4 studies of 464 participants were included in the review.
    • 1 had a low risk of bias.
  • The researchers combined the data and performed a meta-analysis.

And, the results.

  • Probiotics reduced the duration of persistent diarrhea in 2 studies.
  • Stool frequency was reduced with probiotics in 2 studies.
  • 1 study reported a shorter hospital stay, which was significant, but numbers were small.
  • No side effects were reported.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “There is limited evidence suggesting probiotics may be effective in treating persistent diarrhea in children.”

OK, that’s in persistent diarrhea.

More good news.

In another Cochrane Library review of 63 studies of 8,014 patients (most pediatrics), giving probiotics + rehydration fluids reduced the duration of diarrhea by about a day and reduced the risk of diarrhea lasting 4 or more days by 59%.

No serious adverse effects were reported, and although vomiting was quite common it also occurred with placebo.

11/23/10 18:55 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.