Background: Rotavirus is one of the leading etiologic agents of nosocomial infections among children. The development of preventive measures is therefore important. The efficacy of Lactobacillus GG in the treatment of rotavirus infection has been reported in literature, but there is only one recent study about its effectiveness in prevention of infection. The role of breast-feeding in the prevention of rotavirus infection is still debated. The aim of our study was to assess the efficacy of Lactobacillus GG and breast-feeding in the prevention of nosocomial rotavirus infections.
Methods: In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 220 children aged 1 to 18 months hospitalized from December 1999 to May 2000, received Lactobacillus GG (n = 114) at a dose of 1010 colony-forming units or a comparable placebo (n = 106) every day of their hospital stay. Rotavirus testing on stool samples was performed for every patient on admission, during hospitalization, and after discharge.
Results: The total incidence of nosocomial rotavirus infections was 27.7% (61 of 220 patients). The attack rate of rotavirus infections among the patients who received probiotic was 25.4% (29 of 114 patients), while for the placebo group it was 30.2% (32 of 106 patients). The difference is not significant (P = 0.432). Forty-seven of 220 infants (21.4%) were breast-fed, and 173 of 220 (78.6%) were non–breast-fed. The attack rate of rotavirus infections among breast-fed infants was 10.6% (5 of 47 infants), while for non–breast-fed infants it was 32.4% (56 of 173 infants). The difference is significant (P = 0.003).
Conclusion: In our study, Lactobacillus GG was ineffective in preventing nosocomial rotavirus infections, whereas breast-feeding was effective.
*Departments of Pediatrics and †Clinical Pathology, Regina Margherita Children's Hospital, University of Turin, and ‡Department of Public Health, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
Received February 14, 2001; accepted May 14, 2002.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Paola Gianino, Dipartimento di Scienze Pediatriche e dell'Adolescenza, Ospedale Infantile Regina Margherita Piazza Polonia 94, 10126 Torino, Italy (e-mail: Gianino@pediatria.unito.it).