NEW YORK, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- A widely-used probiotic therapy is ineffective in easing symptoms of gastroenteritis in kids such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain, two new studies have concluded.
In the first study, which is a U.S. federally funded project, researchers studied 971 children, aged 3 months to 4 years, with gastroenteritis. The children were either treated with a probiotic containing the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a key ingredient in many probiotic products, for five days or a placebo, namely a substance with no chemical effects. It turned out there was no meaningful difference between the two.
In the second study, which is a government-supported Canadian test, researchers studied 886 children aged 3 months to 2 years old. The kids with gastroenteritis were treated with either a five-day course of a probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus R001 and Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 or a placebo. Again, there was no significant difference between the two groups.
"If they don't work, don't spend your money on them," said David Schnadower, a professor of pediatrics who led the U.S. study, according to the U.S. National Public Radio. "Spend your money on good food. Buy yogurt. Buy vegetables. Buy fruit. Kids will benefit from that more than buying bacteria in pills that have no strong evidence behind them to support their use."
However, researchers of the two studies have stressed their findings apply only to the two probiotic formulations tested in the studies and only for gastroenteritis, leaving room for further studies before one could finalize the conclusion that probiotics are ineffective.
The results of the two studies appear in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is published by the Massachusetts Medical Society and is one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals.
Probiotics, which consist of living bacteria, have been marketed for its efficacy in treating ailments from digestive problems to maintaining overall health. The global probiotic market was valued at some 40.09 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around 65.87 billion dollars by end of 2024, according to a report by Zion Market Research earlier this year.