Early use of probiotics might prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in elderly (>65 years): a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Geriatr. 2022 Jul 6;22(1):562. doi: 10.1186/s12877-022-03257-3.


Background: Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is diarrhea associated with consuming antibiotics that cannot be explained by other causes. AAD prolongs admission time and increases mortality and financial costs. Elderly individuals are more prone to receive antibiotic treatment and develop AAD. The finding that living probiotic microorganisms decrease AAD incidence in adults (<65 years) has been clarified. However, it is controversial among elderly individuals.

Methods: We aimed to explore whether probiotics could prevent AAD in elderly individuals. We searched three electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and The Cochrane Library), and two reviewers independently screened and assessed the studies. RevMan5.4 software was used to perform a meta-analysis according to the PRISMA guidelines.

Results: Eight RCTs of 4691 participants were included. We excluded two large studies because probiotics were used 48 hours after the first dose of antibiotics, and there was no effect. Subgroup analysis of 6 RCTs showed that probiotics given within two days of antibiotic treatment produced a lower AAD prevalence rate in elderly individuals.

Conclusion: We recommend that elderly individuals could be routinely distributed probiotics to prevent AAD development when receiving antibiotic treatment.

Trial registration: The review was not registered.

Keywords: Antibiotic-associated diarrhea; Elderly; Morbidity; Probiotics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

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


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents