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Are probiotics a feasible intervention for prevention of diarrhoea in the developing world?

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Author(s): Hajela Neerja | Nair Gopinath B | Ganguly Nirmal K

Journal: Gut Pathogens
ISSN 1757-4749

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 10;
Date: 2010;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract With more than 1.4 million of the 9 million child deaths being attributed to diarrhoea in 2008 and 49% of them occurring in five countries namely, India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China, there is an urgent need for intervention to prevent and control diarrhoeal diseases. Of the various interventions, probiotics offer immense potential. The past decade has witnessed the validation of their utility for the prevention, treatment and management of a variety of infective and non infective disorders. The most investigated field continues to remain infectious diarrhoea and compelling evidence comes from randomized placebo controlled trials. While results from these studies are encouraging most of them reflect the outcomes of the developed world. Developing countries like India continue to struggle with nutritional and health challenges and bear the greatest burden of diarrhoea. A paucity of data from the developing countries limits the definite recommendation of probiotics. In these countries curd, often confused for a probiotic, is practiced as an integral part of the culture. While the nutritional benefits of these products cannot be understated, it is still uncertain whether these products can be classified as a probiotic. The emergence of probiotic foods which are scientifically validated for their efficacy and impart defined health benefits offer an excellent opportunity to improve public health. A recent randomized controlled trial conducted by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata, India demonstrated a protective efficacy of 14% in preventing diarrhoea among children who received a probiotic. For the developing world however the vision for probiotics would mean a fundamental change in perception and developing a well planned strategy to allow interventions like probiotics to permeate to impoverished settings, where the assault of micro organisms is on a daily basis. This would mean that probiotics are ingrained into the public health system without being seen as a medicine.
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