Healthy bacteria (probiotic) supplements may help treat diarrhea

April 2, 2002 in Gastrointestinal Health, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Healthy bacteria (probiotic) supplements may help treat diarrhea

Supplements containing bacteria commonly found in yogurt can help shorten bouts of diarrhea in children by nearly a day, researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle report. The study team reviewed nine international studies that examined the effectiveness of a type of bacteria known as Lactobacillus for the treatment of diarrhea in children, most of whom were younger than age 3 and were hospitalized at the time. The Lactobacillus was generally given as a supplement, either in capsule form or mixed into a rehydration drink.

Whether the same benefits would result from consumption of store-bought yogurt containing Lactobacillus remains unclear, however the researchers believe it would work. But some yogurts on the market may not contain enough of the bacteria to have an effect.

Parents should consult a paediatrician before giving their children an over-the-counter Lactobacillus or other "probiotic" supplement. Over-the-counter dietary supplements are not subject to the same safety and effectiveness standards that medications face.

And children with diarrhea should see a doctor if they have loose stools for more than 5 days, the stools contain blood or mucus, or the children show signs of dehydration such as dry mouth or infrequent urination.

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