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Bounce Back from the Stomach Bug with Probiotics?

ST. LOUIS (Ivanhoe Newswire) – We've heard a lot about probiotics over the past few years, these are the good bacteria believed to aid in digestive health. They're found in yogurt and cheese or can be taken as dietary supplements. Now doctors are trying to determine if probiotics can help young patients recover after a bad stomach bug.

Six-year old Luke Turmelle is in constant motion. That's why his parents knew something was wrong when all he could do was sleep after a bad stomach bug caused excessive diarrhea.

Yumi Turmelle, Luke's Mother told Ivanhoe, "When he got to the emergency room he was very dehydrated. That's why he was so weak."

Severe gastroenteritis is responsible for one million pediatric medical visits every year.  By the age of five, one in 278 kids will be hospitalized and one in 14 will visit the emergency room. Experts say there's no safe medicine that will help.

David Schnadower, MD, MPH, Pediatrician of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told Ivanhoe, "Anti-diarrheal that are used for adults are dangerous in kids; we cannot prescribe them. So when a patient comes to the emergency room with diarrhea, we can't offer them anything."

But now, doctor Schnadower and his colleagues are testing probiotics as an option.

"There are a lot of studies that show that probiotics are safe. We're not sure if they're effective, or not" Doctor Schnadower explained.

Schnadower is leading a trial of nine-hundred kids ages three months to four years who seek emergency treatment for the stomach bug. Kids will receive either a probiotic or a placebo for five days. Researchers will check at five days and two weeks to see if the probiotic lessened the length and severity of diarrhea.

Yumi Turmelle is not only a mom, but a pediatrician so she knows kids can go downhill fast if they can't hold fluids.

"If they could have avoided that extra day of dehydration that wound him up in the emergency room, it would have helped" Yumi said. And her son would have been feeling better, faster.

Doctor Schnadower and his colleagues are testing one of the most commonly used probiotics; lactobacillus-G-G or L-G-G, which is sold over the counter as Culturelle.  While L-G-G appears to be safe, Doctor Schnadower says it is too soon to recommend it for treatment of symptoms. He says this study will be the longest study ever that may offer an additional treatment option for emergency room physicians and parents.