Background : Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea occurs in up to 30% of patients who receive antibiotics but can be prevented with probiotics.
Aim : To systematically evaluate the effectiveness of Saccharomyces boulardii in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in children and adults.
Methods : Using medical subject headings and free-language terms, the following electronic databases were searched for studies relevant to antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and S. boulardii: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and The Cochrane Library. Additional sources were obtained from references in reviewed articles. Only randomized-controlled trials were considered for study inclusion.
Results : Of 16 potentially relevant clinical trials identified, five randomized-controlled trials (1076 participants) met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review. Treatment with S. boulardii compared with placebo reduced the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea from 17.2% to 6.7% (RR: 0.43; 95% CI: 0.23–0.78; random effect model). The number needed to treat to prevent one case of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea was 10 (95% CI: 7–16). No side-effects were reported.
Conclusions : A meta-analysis of data from five randomized-controlled trials showed that S. boulardii is moderately effective in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in children and adults treated with antibiotics for any reason (mainly respiratory tract infections). For every 10 patients receiving daily S. boulardii with antibiotics, one fewer will develop antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.