The National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata has conducted one of the largest double blind, randomized, placebo controlled field trial to determine the effectiveness of a probiotic to prevent acute diarrhoea in children in a community setting of Kolkata. The trial was initiated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). NICED is one of the 29 ICMR centres.
Yakult Honsha Co. Ltd, Japan, the collaborator of this trial, produces a probiotic drink, Yakult, which contains the Lactobacillus casei probiotic strain Shirota that was evaluated in the study .
The study on 3585 children in the age-group of 1-5 years was done to evaluate the effect of the probiotic in preventing acute diarrhoea. The children were randomly grouped to receive either the probiotic or the placebo (fermented milk drink without the probiotic strain) for a period of 12 weeks and were followed up for another 12 weeks.
The results of the 24-week study revealed that the incidence of diarrhoea was lower in the probiotic group as compared to the placebo. In spite of the fact that the probiotic was given only for 12 weeks it resulted in a significant reduction of diarrhoea episodes by 14 per cent in the probiotic group. Scientists at NICED expect a much better impact if the probiotic was to be given for a longer period of time, stated Dr Neerja Hajela, Head, Science, Yakult Danone India Private Limited.
The study suggests that daily intake of a probiotic drink can play an important role in the prevention of acute diarrhoea in young children in a community setting of a developing country like India, she added.
In India, diarrhoea is reported to be second largest fatal disease after pneumonia. Yakult Danone was keen to find a relief to the dreaded disease, stated Dr. Hajela.
Global statistics place diarrhoea as the second leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years. Nearly one in every five child deaths is due to diarrhoea which kills more children than AIDS, Malaria and Measles combined. According to The Lancet, around 1.5 million of the 9 million child deaths in 2008 were due to diarrhoea with 49 per cent of the deaths occurring in five countries namely India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China.
 Sur, D, … [et al.] (2010). Role of probiotic in preventing acute diarrhoea in children: a community-based, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled field trial in an urban slum. Epidemiology and infection. Available online 30 Jul 2010. doi:10.1017/S0950268810001780
Contact: Dr. Dipikar Sur, MBBS, M.D., National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, India. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source: Nandita Vijay, Pharmabiz.com, 26 Aug 2010