Which Probiotic Is the Most Effective for Treating Acute Diarrhea in Children? A Bayesian Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Acute diarrhea is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children under five. Probiotics are beneficial for treating acute diarrhea in children, but unclear which specific probiotic is the most effective. We performed a Bayesian network meta-analysis to examine the comparative effectiveness of probiotics. By searching EMBASE, PubMed, and the Cochrane Library up to 31 March 2021, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on probiotics for treating acute diarrhea in children were included. Primary outcomes included the duration of diarrhea and diarrhea lasting ≥2 days, and secondary outcomes included the mean stool frequency on day 2 and duration of hospitalization, fever, and vomiting. We assessed the certainty of the evidence of outcomes according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) guideline. Eighty-four studies with twenty-one different interventions in 13,443 children were included. For the primary outcomes, moderate evidence indicated that, Lactobacillus reuteri [mean difference (MD) = −0.84 day; 95% confidence interval (CI), −1.39, −0.29], Bifidobacterium lactis (MD = −0.98 day; 95%CI, −1.82, −0.14), Saccharomyces boulardii (MD = −1.25 day; 95%CI, −1.59, −0.91), Lactobacillus species (spp.) plus Bifidobacterium spp. plus Saccharomyces spp. (MD = −1.19 day; 95%CI, −1.81, −0.58), and Bacillus spp. plus Enterococcus spp. plus Clostridium spp. (MD = −1.1 day; 95%CI, −1.84, −0.35) significantly reduced the duration of diarrhea when compared with placebo. Saccharomyces boulardii [Odds ratio (OR) = 0.22; 95%CI, 0.11, 0.41] and Lactobacillus reuteri (OR = 0.23; 95%CI, 0.090, 0.60) significantly reduced the risk of diarrhea lasting ≥2 days when compared with placebo or no treatment, with moderate evidence. Among all probiotics, Saccharomyces boulardii may be the most effective in reducing both duration of diarrhea (compared with placebo) and risk of diarrhea lasting ≥2 days (compared with placebo or no treatment), with moderate evidence. To be conclusive, Saccharomyces boulardii may be the most effective probiotic for treating acute diarrhea in children, followed by several other single-strain and multi-strain probiotics. View Full-Text

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