Antibiotic associated diarrhea in children

Indian Pediatr. 2009 Jun;46(6):491-6.


Context: Keeping in view the recent flooding of the Indian market with antibiotic and probiotic combinations, we decided to look at the prevalence of antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in children and reviewed evidence available for use of probiotics in the prevention of AAD.

Evidence acquisition: We did a PubMed, Medline and Cochrane libary search for literature available in last 25 years.

Results: Prevalence of antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) is around 11% Children younger than 2 years and type of antibiotics are the two risk factors identified for AAD. For the pediatric population, CDI reportedly decreased in a tertiary care hospital in India, though number of suspected samples tested increased. The incidence of community acquired CDI is increasing in the pediatric population also. Detection of toxin A and B by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and detection of toxin B by tissue culture form the mainstay in the diagnosis of C. difficile. Most of the AAD would respond to only discontinuation or change of the antibiotic. Oral metronidazole or oral vancomycin are drugs of choice for CDI. Probiotics reduce the risk of AAD in children and for every 7-10 patients one less would develop AAD.

Conclusion: Prevalence of AAD is low and majority will respond to discontinuation of antibiotic. CDI is uncommon in children. Probiotics will prevent AAD in only 1 in 7 children on antibiotics. We need cost effectiveness studies to decide the issue of needing a probiotic antibiotic combination to prevent AAD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced*
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / chemically induced
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / drug therapy
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents