Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis: Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 for Treating Acute Gastroenteritis in Children. An Update.
Plain language summary
Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is a common health problem in children and, globally, diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of death in children younger than the age of 5 years. Probiotics have been extensively studied as a supportive treatment regimen in children with AGE and shown to be effective in reducing both diarrhoea duration and severity, and potentially reducing the duration of hospitalization. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis of four randomised controlled trials including 347 children was to provide an update on the research into a particular strain of Lactobacillus reuteri for the treatment of AGE. The meta-analysis showed a significantly reduced duration of illness and hospitalisation, as well as increased cure rate on day 1 and 2, but not 3, 4 or 5. Based on two of the four trials there was no difference in number of watery stools on day 1, 2, 3 or 4. The authors note that the clinical relevance of the findings was limited due to the small effect size and methodological limitations of the included studies.
The effectiveness of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 (L. reuteri) for the management of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) has been recently questioned. We performed a systematic review to update evidence on L. reuteri for treating AGE in children. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library databases, and additional data sources from January 2016 (end of search for our 2016 systematic review) to August 2019. The primary outcomes were stool volume and duration of diarrhea. Four RCTs were included. None of them evaluated stool volume. Compared with placebo or no treatment, L. reuteri reduced diarrhea duration (four RCTs, n = 347, mean difference, MD -0.87 days, 95% CI [-1.43, -0.31]). L. reuteri use was also associated with a reduced duration of hospitalization (three RCTs, n = 284, MD -0.54 days, 95% CI [-1.09, 0.0]). The small effect sizes of limited clinical relevance and methodological limitations of the included trials should be noted when interpreting these findings.