Scientist - News - 21-07-2008:«Back
WGO Practice Guideline on Probiotics and Prebiotics
A recently published Practice Guideline is to provide professionals with definitions and practical advice regarding probiotics and prebiotics.
The use of pre- and probiotics in healthcare, for both prevention and therapy, continues to grow rapidly. While professionals are optimistic about the potential health benefits of pre- and probiotics, they also recognise that caution is needed, given the limited amount of data available from studies in humans on disease states or disease prevention. Expectations may therefore be too high. Furthermore, in some disease groups there may be health risks and in many cases additional research is needed to support a variety of health claims. Professionals agree that an evidence-based approach is needed in order to fully develop the potential of pre- and probiotics and to avoid pitfalls.
In response to this growing concern, the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) has recently published a Practice Guideline on Probiotics and Prebiotics, to be used by health professionals such as physicians, gastroenterologists and dieticians. Prof. Eamonn Quigley, President of WGO, reacts by email: "There is increasing interest in the area both among the medical community and the lay public, but there is also much confusion. There was an obvious need for a guideline that would clear up these issues."
The Practice Guideline starts by outlining the concept of pre- and probiotics. It provides a history section, definitions, and information about genera, species and strains. It continues by addressing products, health claims and commercial issues, including topics such as quality control, and gives an overview of the science behind probiotics. The Guideline has detailed sections about clinical applications, specifying gastrointestinal disorders where there is evidence of health effects and where evidence is lacking. Detailed literature references, websites and a section on searching medical literature databases are provided to support professionals in their quest for additional information.
"To our knowledge," writes Prof. Quigley, "this is the first comprehensive guideline on the topic by a major gastrointestinal organisation. In our field it is therefore, for the moment, the standard guideline for health professionals. The reactions we have received so far have been very positive."
WGO Practice Guideline
WGO guidelines are unique by virtue of their global applicability. A cascade of diagnostic and treatment options takes into account global discrepancies in resources and offers medical professionals around the world practical solutions and useful management tools. This Probiotics guideline is part of a comprehensive series of guidelines covering a wide range of gastroenterological topics issued by WGO. These guidelines are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin and Russian and are regularly updated through an annotated "Graded Evidence" system at www.worldgastroenterology.org.