The effect of probiotics on the incidence of Clostridioides difficile: Retrospective cohort analysis

Temima Saltzman, Melissa Fazzari, Shirley Chung, Burke A. Cunha, Sharon Blum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Conflicting evidence exists regarding probiotics and the incidence of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI). This study evaluates whether probiotics are efficacious for CDI prophylaxis in patients receiving antibiotics. Methods: A retrospective cohort analysis of patients admitted to NYU Winthrop Hospital who received at least 1 dose of antibiotics considered high risk of inducing CDI. Patients were grouped according to probiotic use; association between probiotic use and incident CDI was examined. A model for incident CDI adjusting for known CDI risk factors was estimated. Results: Of 3,267 patients, 4.6% had CDI within 12 weeks of antibiotics initiation. A total of 5.1% received probiotics within 24 hours of initiation, and 6.6% initiated probiotics during the 12-week follow-up. Of those taking probiotics within 24 hours of antibiotics, 9.6% had CDI, and of those not taking probiotics 4.2% had CDI (relative risk, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.4, 3.7). In time-dependent Cox models accounting for probiotic initiation and adjusting for potential confounders, a positive association between probiotics and CDI remained significant (hazard ratio, 2.7; P <. 001). Discussion: Patients who received antibiotics with concurrent probiotics were more likely to have an incident of CDI compared with those who did not receive probiotics. Additional risk factors were histamine 2 receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors, and administration of multiple antibiotics simultaneously. Conclusions: The present study, because of its large population and inclusion of multiple variables playing a role in CDI, serves as a valuable resource when considering efficacy of probiotics as CDI prophylaxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-188
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • C difficile
  • Clostridioides difficile
  • Lactobacillus: CDI
  • probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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