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Optimising the management of childhood acute diarrhoeal disease using a rapid test-and- treat strategy and/or Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938: a multicentre, randomised, controlled, factorial trial in Botswana.

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2022 Apr

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<p><strong>INTRODUCTION: </strong>The study aim was to determine if rapid enteric diagnostics followed by the provision of targeted antibiotic therapy ('test-and-treat') and/or&nbsp;<em>Lactobacillus reuteri</em> DSM 17938 would improve outcomes in children hospitalised in Botswana with acute gastroenteritis.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>This was a multicentre, randomised, factorial, controlled, trial. Children aged 2-60 months admitted for acute non-bloody diarrhoea to four hospitals in southern Botswana were eligible. Participants were assigned to treatment groups by web-based block randomisation. Test-and-treat results were not blinded, but participants and research staff were blinded to <em>L. reuteri</em>/placebo assignment; this was dosed as 1×10<sup>8</sup> cfu/mL by mouth daily and continued for 60 days. The primary outcome was 60-day age-standardised height (HAZ) adjusted for baseline HAZ. All analyses were by intention to treat. The trial was registered at</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Recruitment began on 12 June 2016 and continued until 24 October 2018. There were 66 participants randomised to the test-and-treat plus <em>L. reuteri&nbsp;</em>group, 68 randomised to the test-and-treat plus placebo group, 69 to the standard care plus <em>L. reuteri&nbsp;</em>group and 69 to the standard care plus placebo group. There was no demonstrable impact of the test-and-treat intervention (mean increase of 0.01 SD, 95% CI -0.14 to 0.16 SD) or the&nbsp;<em>L. reuteri</em> intervention (mean decrease of 0.07 SD, 95% CI -0.22 to 0.08 SD) on adjusted HAZ at 60 days.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>In children hospitalised for acute gastroenteritis in Botswana, neither a test-and-treat algorithm targeting enteropathogens, nor a 60-day course of <em>L. reuteri&nbsp;</em>DSM 17938, were found to markedly impact linear growth or other important outcomes. We cannot exclude the possibility that test-and-treat will improve the care of children with significant enteropathogens (such as <em>Shigella</em>) in their stool.</p>

<p><strong>TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: </strong>NCT02803827.</p>



Alternate Title

BMJ Glob Health




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