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Probiotics are effective at preventing Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

INTRODUCTION: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. CDI has increased in incidence and severity over the past decade, and is a growing worldwide health problem associated with substantial health care costs and significant morbidity and mortality. This meta-analysis examines the impact of probiotics on the incidence of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) among children and adults, in both hospital and outpatient settings.

METHODS: A comprehensive literature search of all published randomized control trials (RCTs) assessing the use of probiotics in the prevention of CDAD in patients receiving antibiotic therapy was conducted, and the incidence of CDAD was analyzed.

RESULTS: Twenty-six RCTs involving 7,957 patients were analyzed. Probiotic use significantly reduced the risk of developing CDAD by 60.5% (relative risk [RR] =0.395; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.294-0.531; P<0.001). Probiotics proved beneficial in both adults and children (59.5% and 65.9% reduction), especially among hospitalized patients. Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and a mixture of probiotics were all beneficial in reducing the risk of developing CDAD (63.7%, 58.5%, and 58.2% reduction).

CONCLUSION: Probiotic supplementation is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing CDAD in patients receiving antibiotics. Additional studies are required to determine the optimal dose and strain of probiotic.

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