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Kefir and its high probiotic content may not be effective in preventing diarrhea in young children

Reuters health has reported that a research study funded by Lifeway Foods, a company that manufactures a probiotic product called ProBugs, which is essentially the cultured dairy beverage called Kefir, has found there is little difference between the beverage with active probiotics and without active probiotics when it comes to preventing diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics.

"Up to 35 percent of children who take antibiotics develop diarrhea, according to Dr. Daniel J. Merenstein at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC and colleagues, who performed the study. Sometimes the diarrhea is so severe that the children can't finish taking the medication."

"Many sources report that kefir helps prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Kefir, a cultured dairy beverage that's a bit like drinkable yogurt, is rich with probiotics -- bacteria present naturally in the body and sometimes added to food or dietary supplements to boost immune function."

"The researchers tested Probugs in a carefully controlled study that involved 125 children between the ages of 1 and 5 whose doctors had prescribed antibiotics for various reasons. For 10 days, while the children were taking the antibiotics, they also drank the kefir - but for half the children, the kefir had been heated in advance to kill off the probiotics."

Overall, "there were no differences in the rates of diarrhea" between the two groups, the investigators report in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Furthermore, the real kefir did not provide any benefit in terms of stomach pain, vomiting, fever, irritability, lethargy, missed school days, or a variety of other factors.

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