Acute Infectious Diarrhea
Acute infectious diarrhea (AID) is one of the most common diseases in pediatric age with relevant burden both in high- and in low-income countries.
Thanks to their direct action on enterocyte functions and indirect actions on mucosal and systemic immune system and intestinal microenvironment, probiotics are an ideal intervention to manage AID in childhood. However, their efficacy is strictly related to strains and indications, and practitioners should take this information into account in clinical practice.
This chapter summarizes the main mechanisms of action of probiotics in AID, with a focus on proof of efficacy supporting their use in prevention and treatment of infant AID.
The use of selected strains in appropriate doses is strongly recommended by guidelines of AID, based on large and consistent proofs of efficacy and safety. At present, therapy with probiotics of AID is arguably the strongest indication for probiotics in medicine. Future research should investigate probiotic efficacy in at-risk populations and settings where the evidence is missing.
Their role in prevention of AID is however questionable in healthy population, whereas it should be considered in at-risk population. Evidence for prevention of diarrhea in day-care centers and communities is lacking, but consistent evidence supports efficacy in prevention of hospital acquired diarrhea.
Overall, AID is the most convincing area for probiotic use in children, and effective strains should be used early after onset of symptoms.
KeywordsDiarrhea Gastroenteritis Gastrointestinal infections Probiotics
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