Introduction: Gastroenteritis accounts for 1.7 million emergency department visits by children annually in the United States. We conducted a double-blind trial to determine whether twice daily probiotic administration for 5 days, improves outcomes. Methods: 886 children aged 348 months with gastroenteritis were enrolled in six Canadian pediatric emergency departments. Participants were randomly assigned to twice daily Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 and Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, 4.0 x 109 CFU, in a 95:5 ratio or placebo. Primary outcome was development of moderate-severe disease within 14 days of randomization defined by a Modified Vesikari Scale score 9. Secondary outcomes included duration of diarrhea and vomiting, subsequent physician visits and adverse events. Results: Moderate-severe disease occurred in 108 (26.1%) participants administered probiotics and 102 (24.7%) participants allocated to placebo (OR 1.06; 95%CI: 0.77, 1.46; P=0.72). After adjustment for site, age, and frequency of vomiting and diarrhea, treatment assignment did not predict moderate-severe disease (OR, 1.11, 95%CI, 0.80 to 1.56; P=0.53). In the probiotic versus placebo groups, there were no differences in the median duration of diarrhea [52.5 (18.3, 95.8) vs. 55.5 (20.2, 102.3) hours; P=0.31], vomiting [17.7 (0, 58.6) vs. 18.7 (0, 51.6) hours; P=0.18], physician visits (30.2% vs. 26.6%; OR 1.19; 95% CI0.87. 1.62; P=0.27), or adverse events (32.9% vs. 36.8%; OR 0.83; 95%CI 0.62. 1.11; P=0.21). Conclusion: In children presenting to an emergency department with gastroenteritis, twice daily administration of 4.0 x 109 CFU of a Lactobacillus rhamnosus/helveticus probiotic does not prevent development of moderate-severe disease or improvements in other outcomes measured.
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