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Probiotics can blunt diarrhea caused by antibiotics, report says

May 08, 2012|By Thomas H. Maugh II / For the Booster Shots blog

Nearly a third of the people who take antibiotics to cure an infection develop diarrhea when good bacteria in the intestines are killed off along with the bad. Some stop taking the drugs as a result, leading to problems such as failure to cure the infection or the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But data from a large number of clinical trials compiled in a survey by researchers at the Rand Corp. show that consuming probiotics (beneficial bacteria) reduces the incidence of diarrhea by 42%. Probiotics are found at varying levels in yogurt and are also available as dietary supplements in most stores.

The team estimated that 13 people would need to be treated to prevent one case of diarrhea, but hey, yogurt tastes good! To most of us, at least.

Nutritional scientist Sydney J. Newberry of Rand in Santa Monica and his colleagues combined data from 63 clinical trials that included 11,811 participants. They reported the 42% reduction in diarrhea Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Unfortunately, very few of the trials yielded specific data about the probiotics used and their concentrations, preventing the team from drawing any conclusions about which bacteria work best. Most of the trials, however, used lactic acid-producing bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus or L. casei, which are commonly found in yogurt.

The work was not sponsored by any yogurt or supplement manufacturers, and the authors reported no ties to any of them.

LATimesScience@gmail.com

Twitter @LATMaugh

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