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NewsBites July 2012 Issue

Probiotics Help Prevent Antibiotics’ Intestinal Side Effects

While the jury’s still out on some promised benefits of probiotics, a new analysis reports that the “friendly bacteria” in yogurt and other foods can help prevent diarrhea that occurs as a side effect of antibiotics. Scientists reviewed 82 prior randomized controlled trials, of which 63 studies totaling 11,811 patients could be pooled to assess probiotics’ effects on preventing (rather than treating) antibiotic-related diarrhea. As many as 30% of patients prescribed antibiotics suffer diarrhea as a side effect, which is a major problem in getting people to stick to the treatment. In the combined analysis, scientists found probiotics associated with a 42% lower relative risk of developing diarrhea. Trials that focused only on Lactobacillius or yeast as the probiotic showed similar results. Other probiotics lacked enough clearly identified trials to determine effectiveness.

TO LEARN MORE: JAMA, May 9, 2012; abstract at

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