A new study published in the journal The Lancet reveals that giving probiotic supplements to the elderly will not prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).
The study has called into question the findings reached by previous studies that had found probiotic supplements to be effective in treating AAD. Over 3,000 people, over 65 years of age and who had been prescribed one or more antibiotics, took part in a study called PLACIDE that was conducted in five different hospitals in Britain.
Around half of the participants were given a capsule containing a fixed dose of probiotics every day for a period of 21 days while the remaining half was given a placebo. The capsules were composed of two strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
On following up the patients 8-12 weeks after the course ended, the researchers found that around 10 percent of all patients suffered from AAD while a similar number of those who had been given probiotics also experienced AAD.
"Our study is by far the largest trial so far to assess the effects on AAD of so-called probiotics - which might better be termed microbial preparations, given the uncertainty over whether they are indeed beneficial to health - and the results do not support the use of these preparations to reduce rates of AAD in older inpatients", lead researcher Professor Stephen Allen said.