Probiotics 'ineffective' for gastroenteritis in children

A key ingredient in many products is no better at stopping symptoms than placebo, study finds

A widely used probiotic therapy is ineffective against the diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain of gastroenteritis, two large studies in the US and Canada conclude.

Five days of treatment with a key ingredient in many products, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, was no better at stopping symptoms than placebo among children aged three months to four years.

In the Canadian study, a second probiotic added to the mix also showed no benefit.

"Taken together, neither of these large, well-done trials provides support for the use of probiotics containing L. rhamnosus to treat moderate-to-severe gastroenteritis in children," Dr Thomas LaMont of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston writes in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr David Schnadower, a coauthor of the US study and an associate professor of paediatrics at Washington University School of