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Probiotics against diarrhea

THE QUESTION Probiotics — living microorganisms often added to foods — are thought to be good for gastrointestinal health. Can these “friendly” bacteria help fight diarrhea?

world Updated: Dec 09, 2010 01:37 IST

A STUDY analyzed data involving 8,014 people, mostly 18 and younger, with diarrhea caused by a virus, bacteria or parasite. Participants had been randomly assigned to take probiotics or a placebo. In nearly all instances, diarrhea was shorter-lasting, by about 25 hours, and less severe among people who took probiotics.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED?

People who develop infectious diarrhea are commonly among children and travelers.

CAVEATS

Many strains of probiotics were tested, and the dosages varied, as did the length of treatment. Whether different strains might yield different results was not determined.

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