24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Kids of Opioid-Using Parents May Be More Likely to Attempt SuicideCholesterol Levels Improving Among U.S. KidsEarlier Bedtimes Help Kids Fight Obesity1 in 5 Kids Don't Strap on Helmets Before BikingParents, Here's How to Protect Your Child During Measles OutbreaksMore Than 600,000 Opioid Abusers Raising Kids in U.S.2 of 3 Parents Read Texts While DrivingFear of Dentist May Start Early for Minority Kids -- With Good ReasonMilitary Tourniquets Might Save Kids' Lives During School ShootingsE-Cigarettes Used in 5% of U.S. Homes With KidsMany Kids With Chronic Illness Are Still Happy: StudyDiet Sodas May Not Help Kids Cut CaloriesAsthma Inhalers Incorrectly Used by Most Kids in StudyNewer Diabetes Drug Shows Promise in Kids, TeensBenlysta Approved for Children With LupusParents, Protect Your Kids as Measles Outbreaks SpreadHow Much Does Your Kid Weigh? Chances Are, You're UnderestimatingFor Kids, Obesity and Mental Health Woes Often Go Hand-in-HandWhy Kids Should Play More Than One SportBetter Food Assistance Programs Might Lower Childhood Obesity RatesMany U.S. Kids Don't Drink Enough Water, and Obesity May Be the ResultStrict Blood Pressure Limits for Kids Tied to Heart Health LaterAlmost Half of Young Asthma Patients Misuse InhalersCan Games and Apps Help Your Kids Learn?Kids Can Get UTIs, TooInactive Lifestyle Begins as Early as Age 7: StudyWhy the HPV Vaccine Is More Important Than EverMore Time Spent in Sports, Faster Healing From ConcussionHow to Cut Your Kids' Sugar IntakeLiving Near Major Roads Can Slow Kids' Development: StudySuicidal Behavior Nearly Doubles Among U.S. KidsTeaching Kids the Importance of an ApologyAHA News: Kids With High Blood Pressure Need Smooth Transition to Adult CarePot During Pregnancy May Raise Child's Psychosis RiskMost Parents Want Age Limits on Football TacklingKids Who Specialize in One Sport Too Early Are Likely to Get Hurt: StudyHealth Tip: Responsibilities of Non-VaccinationThe 1-Parent Family and Kids' Health RisksPesticides Tied to Autism Risk in KidsStrengthening Family Ties Through Online GamingReworked Nasal Flu Vaccine Looks Good for Kids, Pediatricians' Group SaysMore U.S. Teens, Kids Seeking Mental Health Care in ERsAHA News: Overweight Kids at Higher Risk for Blood Clots as AdultsHow to Protect Your Kids From DrowningFewer Boys Are Suffering Head Injuries, But Rate Rises for GirlsWhen Can Kids Return to Play After a Concussion?One-Third of U.S. Kids Have Back Pain, Study SaysMany Parents Think Vaping Around Kids Is FineTime Change Tougher for Kids With Mental Health IssuesLargest Study Ever Finds No Link Between Measles Vaccine, Autism
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Probiotics Show No Effect on Kids' Tummy Upsets

HealthDay News
by By Amy NortonHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Nov 21st 2018

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- When young children have a bout of "stomach flu," parents often turn to probiotics for help. But two new clinical trials suggest they are wasting their money.

Researchers found that probiotic formulas showed no benefit for babies and preschoolers with acute gastroenteritis -- a common gut infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting.

The findings contradict some earlier, smaller trials.

But researchers said those studies were generally "poorly done" and provided only weak evidence that probiotics worked.

The new trials, performed in Canada and the United States, were much better designed, said Dr. J. Thomas LaMont, a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

And the findings might change doctors' minds about suggesting probiotics for gastroenteritis, he said.

"Often, trials with negative findings don't get published," said LaMont. "These trials were published because they're expected to have an impact on clinical practice."

LaMont wrote an editorial accompanying the reports, which were published Nov. 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Probiotic supplements contain live bacteria, the goal being to restore a better balance to intestinal bacteria and boost the immune system.

Despite the weak evidence, some medical societies do suggest probiotics as an option for kids' gastroenteritis -- partly because the products are considered quite safe.

So doctors do recommend them, and many parents try the heavily marketed products on their own, said Dr. David Schnadower, who worked on both trials.

As it stands, there is no way to stop the diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis, said Schnadower, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The only treatments are fluids to prevent dehydration and, sometimes, anti-nausea medication.

"That's frustrating," Schnadower said. "Parents really want something to make this go away."

But based on the new findings, he said, probiotics are not the answer.

The U.S. trial tested a pediatric formulation of a probiotic marketed for "digestive health" called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or LGG.

It included 971 children aged 3 months to 4 years who'd been diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis in an emergency room. The researchers randomly assigned them to receive either a five-day course of LGG or a placebo, in addition to standard care.

In the end, the study found, the probiotic made no difference. Children in both groups had diarrhea for an average of two days, and missed two days in day care.

Schnadower said his team looked at the findings from different angles -- including whether probiotics had different effects in kids who did or didn't get antibiotics, or whose infections were caused by a virus versus bacteria.

"No matter how we looked at it," he said, "probiotics were no better than placebo."

The Canadian study tested a probiotic combination -- L. rhamnosus plus L. helveticus -- in 886 children with acute gastroenteritis. The results were nearly identical to those from the U.S. trial.

None of that means probiotics are useless, according to LaMont. He pointed to a recent trial in rural India, where researchers gave newborns a probiotic or placebo for the first few days of life. The supplement lowered the babies' risk of lung infections and sepsis -- a severe complication of infection -- in the first two months of life.

But when it comes to acute gastroenteritis, LaMont said, probiotics may have no effect because kids' symptoms are usually short-lived anyway.

"These conditions get better on their own in about 48 hours," he said. "They're self-limiting."

Schnadower suggested that parents stick with some basic measures when a child has diarrhea and vomiting.

"Keep your child well-hydrated with fluids," he said, "and wash your hands regularly to lower the risk of spreading the infection."

And while probiotics are generally safe, Schnadower pointed to the cost.

"Is it worth spending money on a probiotic that's no better than a placebo?" he said. "You could spend it on fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods instead."

Schnadower did stress that there's great promise in studying the "microbiome" -- the trillions of bacteria and other microbes that naturally dwell in the body and may play a key role in our health.

"But research into manipulating the microbiome for health is still in its infancy," Schnadower said. "The market for probiotics is huge, and it's growing much faster than the science supporting it."

He cited statistics showing the global market stands at about $37 billion.

In the United States, LaMont noted, probiotics are not regulated the way drugs are. They are considered supplements and do not have to be proven effective before hitting store shelves.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on gastroenteritis.