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The commensal bacterial flora of the colon may undergo changes during diarrhea, owing to colonization of the intestine by pathogens and to rapid intestinal transit. This study used molecular methods to determine changes in the composition of selected commensal anaerobic bacteria during and after acute diarrhea in children.Fecal samples were obtained from 46 children with acute diarrhea in a rural community during an episode of acute diarrhea, immediately after recovery from diarrhea, and 3 months after recovery. DNA was extracted and quantitative polymerase chain reaction using SYBR green and genus- and species-specific primers targeting 16S rDNA were undertaken to quantitate the following groups of bacteria: Bifidobacterium spp., Bifidobacterium longum group, Bacteroides-Prevotella group, Bacteroides fragilis, Lactobacillus acidophilus group, Faecalibacterium prauznitzii, and Eubacterium rectale, relative to amplification of universal bacterial domain 16S rDNA.Bacteria belonging to the Bacteroides-Prevotella-Porphyromonas group, E rectale, L acidophilus, and F prauznitzii groups were low during acute diarrhea compared with their levels after recovery from diarrhea. The pattern was similar in rotavirus diarrhea and nonrotavirus diarrhea. Administration of amylase-resistant maize starch as adjuvant therapy was associated with lower levels of F prauznitzii at the time of recovery but did not lead to other changes in the floral pattern.Specific classes of fecal bacteria are lower during episodes of acute diarrhea in children than during periods of normal gastrointestinal health, suggesting specific alterations in the flora during diarrhea.