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Probiotics vs antibiotics?

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:9/20/2018 03:09:59 AM

A study shows that regular use of probiotics may reduce the need for antibiotic treatment in infants and children.  

WE’VE heard of superbugs, or bacteria and fungi that can no longer be treated with antibiotics that were made to destroy them. In the US alone, two million cases of antibiotic resistant infections are reported annually and result in 23,000 deaths, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order for antibiotics to defeat these bugs, we should depend less on them.

Meanwhile increasing the intake of probiotics could reduce the need for antibiotics, according to a review of 12 studies on probiotic use in infants and children.

Researchers in U.S., England and the Netherlands found that when the results from 12 studies were pooled together, infants and children were 29% less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics if they received probiotics as a daily health supplement. When the analysis was repeated with only the highest quality studies, this percentage increased to 53%. Their study is supported in part by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, and published in the European Journal of Public Health.

Yogurt is the most popular source of probiotics.

“Given this finding, potentially one way to reduce the use of antibiotics is to use probiotics on a regular basis,” says the study’s senior investigator, Daniel Merenstein, MD, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also director of research programs in the department.

“We already have evidence that consuming probiotics reduces the incidence, duration, and severity of certain types of common acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections,” Merenstein says. “The question is whether that reduction is solidly linked to declining use of antibiotics, and we see that there is an association.”

“More studies are needed in all ages, and particularly in the elderly, to see if sustained probiotic use is connected to an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. If so, this could potentially have a huge impact on the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general,” says the study’s lead author Sarah King, PhD, from Cambridge, UK.

How probiotics help fight infections, especially those in the respiratory track and lower digestive tract, is not clear. However, Merenstein says, “There are many potential mechanisms, such as probiotic production of pathogen inhibitors, immune regulation, among others.

“We don’t know all the mechanisms probiotic strains may leverage. But since most of the human immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract, ingesting healthy bacteria may competitively exclude bacterial pathogens linked to gut infections and may prime the immune system to fight others,” he says.

The probiotics used in the reviewed studies were strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. - 

Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

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