Saccharomyces boulardii is a non-pathogenic probiotic yeast considered useful against enteropathogens.
To assess the effectiveness of S. boulardii in treating acute infectious diarrhoea in children.
The following electronic databases were searched through August 2006 for studies relevant to acute infectious diarrhoea and S. boulardii: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and The Cochrane Library; additional references were obtained from reviewed articles. Only randomized-controlled trials were included.
Five randomized-controlled trials (619 participants) met the inclusion criteria. Combined data from four randomized-controlled trials showed that S. boulardii significantly reduced the duration of diarrhoea compared with control. The pooled weighted mean difference was −1.1 days (95% CI: −1.3 to −0.8) with a fixed model and remained significant in a random effect model. Saccharomyces boulardii significantly reduced the risk of diarrhoea on days 3, 6 and 7. Also the risk of diarrhoea lasting >7 days was significantly reduced in the S. boulardii group vs. control group (1 RCT, n = 88, RR 0.25, 95% CI: 0.08–0.83; NNT 5, 95% CI: 3–20).
There exists a moderate clinical benefit of S. boulardii therapy in otherwise healthy infants and children with acute gastroenteritis, mainly a shorter duration of diarrhoea. However, these results should be interpreted with caution due to methodological limitations of the included studies.