Background: Oral bacteriotherapy promotes recovery from acute childhood diarrhea, but few strains have been shown to have therapeutic potentials. We examined the effect of two newly identified probiotic Lactobacillus strains in acute childhood diarrhea.
Methods: Sixty-nine children were randomized during hospitalization for acute diarrhea to receive a mixture of Lactobacillus rhamnosus 19070-2 and Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 12246, 10(10) colony-forming units of each strain or placebo twice daily for 5 days. Before selection of these stains their potential probiotic characteristics were demonstrated in vitro and in healthy volunteers.
Results: In patients receiving probiotics, the diarrheal phase was reduced by 20%. The duration of diarrhea was 82 h in the treatment group vs. 101 h in the control group (not significant, P = 0.07). However, 3 of 30 patients from the treatment group vs. 13 of 39 from the control group still had loose stools at the end of the study period (P = 0.03). In patients with diarrhea for <60 h before start of treatment (early intervention), a clear effect of the probiotics was demonstrated (80 h in the treatment group vs. 130 h in the control group, P = 0.003). After early intervention, the length of hospitalization was reduced by 48% (3.5 vs. 1.7 days, P = 0.03). At the end of the intervention, rotavirus antigen was found in 12% of patients from the treatment group vs. 46% from the control group (P = 0.02).
Conclusions: The two probiotics, L. rhamnosus 19070-2 and L. reuteri DSM 12246, ameliorated acute diarrhea in hospitalized children and reduced the period of rotavirus excretion. Oral bacteriotherapy was associated with a reduced length of hospital stay. The beneficial effects were most prominent in children treated early in the diarrheal phase.