Meta-analysis: the effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG supplementation for the prevention of healthcare-associated diarrhoea in children

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Nov;34(9):1079-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04837.x. Epub 2011 Sep 7.


Background: In children, healthcare-associated diarrhoea, in particular, due to rotavirus, may prolong the hospital stay and increase medical costs, prompting interest in effective, low-cost, preventive strategies.

Aim: To review systematically data on the efficacy of administering Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) for the prevention of healthcare-associated diarrhoea.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, the Cochrane Library, trial registries and proceedings of major meetings were systematically searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) performed in children aged 1 month to 18 years that compared administration of LGG with placebo or no intervention. Two reviewers assessed studies for inclusion and risk of bias and extracted the data. Outcome measures included the incidences of healthcare-associated diarrhoea and rotavirus gastroenteritis. If appropriate, meta-analyses were carried out using the fixed effects model.

Results: Three RCTs involving 1092 children were included. Compared with placebo, LGG administration for the duration of hospital stay was associated with significantly lower rates of diarrhoea (two RCTs, n = 823, relative risk, RR 0.37, 95% confidence interval, CI 0.23-0.59) and symptomatic rotavirus gastroenteritis (three RCTs, n = 1043, RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.28-0.86). There was no significant difference between the LGG and the control groups in the incidence of asymptomatic rotavirus infection, duration of hospitalisation or duration of diarrhoea. LGG was well tolerated, and no harms were reported in any of the trials.

Conclusion: In hospitalised children, the administration of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG compared with placebo has the potential to reduce the overall incidence of healthcare-associated diarrhoea, including rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Diarrhea / economics
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus*
  • Probiotics / economics
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic