Do You Recommend Probiotics and Prebiotics to Your Patients?

July 25, 2018

Nearly four million adults in the United States use probiotics or prebiotics products that contain live organisms, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. The products may be used for a wide range of illnesses, including gastrointestinal conditions, eczema, asthma, infections, weight loss, depression, and more.

Yet, the vast majority of research studies on probiotics, prebiotics, and similar interventions to modify the human microbiome report no specific data on possible harms, a meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine warns.

Even among studies that reported harms, most were incomplete or otherwise inadequate in doing so, the report, authored by French scientists, noted. Just 2% of the trials adequately reported all of the parameters recommended in guidelines for reporting harms, including number of participant withdrawals resulting from harms, definition of adverse events and serious number of adverse events per study group, and the grade, type, and seriousness of the events with denominators.

In addition, just 6% of the trials adequately reported safety findings in their results, including number of participant withdrawals resulting from harms and number of adverse events and seriously adverse events. A mere 2% of trials adequately covered harms assessment in their methods sections.


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