A practical guide for probiotics applied to the case of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in The Netherlands

BMC Gastroenterol. 2018 Aug 6;18(1):103. doi: 10.1186/s12876-018-0831-x.


Background: Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is a side-effect frequently associated with the use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Although a number of clinical studies show that co-administration of specific probiotics reduces the risk for AAD, there is still unclarity among healthcare professionals on the recommendation of probiotic products. This paper aims at a practical guide to inform healthcare professionals, patients and consumers about the exact product characteristics of available probiotics with a proven efficacy to prevent AAD.

Methods: The workflow in this paper includes three consecutive steps: 1) systematic review of relevant clinical studies for effective probiotics by a meta-analysis, 2) compilation of a list of available probiotic products, and 3) recommendation of probiotic products that match effective formulations. Our systematic review on the efficacy of probiotics for the prevention of AAD included only studies with randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trials, a clear definition of antibiotic associated diarrhea, and a probiotic administration regime for at least the duration of the antibiotic therapy.

Results: Using our inclusion criteria, we selected 32 out of 128 identified trials and pooled the results of these studies for each specific dairy product and food supplement. The results indicate a total of seven single or multiple-strain formulations favoring the probiotic treatment group, with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG being the most effective [relative risk ratio of probiotic versus placebo 0.30 (95% CI 0.16-0.5)]. We selected products for recommendation from a compiled list of all probiotic dairy products and food supplements available in The Netherlands and categorized them into groups of products showing effects against the incidence of AAD in at least one, two or three independent clinical studies. We excluded all products which did not unambiguously declare on the label the specific probiotic strain(s) and the number of colony forming units.

Conclusion: Here we present a practical guide that informs healthcare professionals and patients on the availability of probiotic products with a proven efficacy for the prevention of AAD.

Keywords: Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD); Antibiotics; Meta-analysis; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Practice Guideline
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced*
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents