A placebo-controlled trial of Lactobacillus GG to prevent diarrhea in undernourished Peruvian children

Richard A. Oberhelman, Robert H. Gilman, Patricia Sheen, David Taylor, Robert E. Black, Lilia Cabrera, Andrés G. Lescano, Rina Meza, Guillermo Madico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


Objective: Lactobacillus GG (L-GG), an acid- and bile-resistant strain that colonizes the intestinal mucosa, has been used to manage diarrhea in children. Our objective was to evaluate the prophylactic use of L-GG to prevent diarrhea in children at high risk from a developing country in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Study design: Two hundred four undernourished children 6 to 24 months old from an indigent peri-urban Peruvian town received either L-GG or placebo in flavored gelatin once daily, 6 days a week, for 15 months. Episodes of diarrhea were documented by daily home visits, and diagnostic studies were done in a subset of cases. Recovery of L-GG in stool from subjects and from family contacts was examined. Results: Subjects in the L-GG group had significantly fewer episodes of diarrhea (5.21 episodes diarrhea/child/year ['ecy'] L-GG group, 6.02 ecy placebo group; P = .028). The decreased incidence of diarrhea in the L-GG group was greatest in the 18- to 29-month age group (P = .004) and was largely limited to nonbreastfed children (Breastfed: 6.59 ecy L-GG, 6.32 ecy placebo, P = .7; Nonbreastfed: 4.69 ecy L-GG, 5.86 ecy placebo, P = .005). The duration of diarrhea episodes and the causes of diarrhea were similar in both groups, except adenovirus was more common in the placebo group. Conclusion: L-GG supplementation may be useful as a prophylactic measure to control diarrhea in undernourished children at increased risk, especially nonbreastfed children in the toddler age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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