Background: Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic probiotic yeast considered useful against enteropathogens.
Aim: To assess the effectiveness of S. boulardii in treating acute infectious diarrhoea in children.
Methods: The following electronic databases were searched through August 2006 for studies relevant to acute infectious diarrhoea and S. boulardii: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and The Cochrane Library; additional references were obtained from reviewed articles. Only randomized-controlled trials were included.
Results: Five randomized-controlled trials (619 participants) met the inclusion criteria. Combined data from four randomized-controlled trials showed that S. boulardii significantly reduced the duration of diarrhoea compared with control. The pooled weighted mean difference was -1.1 days (95% CI: -1.3 to -0.8) with a fixed model and remained significant in a random effect model. Saccharomyces boulardii significantly reduced the risk of diarrhoea on days 3, 6 and 7. Also the risk of diarrhoea lasting >7 days was significantly reduced in the S. boulardii group vs. control group (1 RCT, n = 88, RR 0.25, 95% CI: 0.08-0.83; NNT 5, 95% CI: 3-20).
Conclusions: There exists a moderate clinical benefit of S. boulardii therapy in otherwise healthy infants and children with acute gastroenteritis, mainly a shorter duration of diarrhoea. However, these results should be interpreted with caution due to methodological limitations of the included studies.