Probiotics For Antibiotic Resistance

As the importance of gut bacteria with regards to overall health continues to become more obvious, many have started to look at the potential benefits of probiotics in the quest for gut health. Aside from being offered in the form of supplements, probiotics are now regularly added to yogurts and other foods. Moreover, their effect on gut health has been linked to a number of health benefits that include improved skin health, alleviation of depression, as well as the maintenance and protection of one’s heart health.

Probiotics and antibiotic resistance

As a result of the health effects, some researchers believe that probiotics may also help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are close to 2 million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections each year, with 23 000 of those cases resulting in death. Antibiotic resistance makes it incredibly difficult for doctors to treat infections that including pneumonia, TB, salmonellosis and gonorrhoea. Aside from avoiding meats that have been injected with antibiotics, antibiotic prescriptions need to be closely monitored and limited. However, a recent study has highlighted how the introduction of probiotics consumption may help to solve the issue.

The study

A study published in the European Journal of Public Health attempted to uncover if the regular consumption of probiotics would deem the need for antibiotics as null and void. It is actually the first study that investigates the link between probiotic use and antibiotic use.

For the study, the researchers reviewed 17 studies – each of which administered the probiotics Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium to infants and children.

The results

The study revealed that the consumption of probiotics reduced the need for antibiotic prescriptions.

Specifically, the study revealed that the infants and children who took a daily probiotic supplement were 29% less likely to be prescribed antibiotics. They then repeated the analysis using only the highest-quality studies and the number moved from 29% to 53%.

The verdict

The above study was only done on a younger group thus more studies are needed to be conducted on all ages to properly see the link between probiotic use and antibiotic prescriptions. Nonetheless, reducing the administering of antibiotics through the regular consumption of probiotic may help to prevent antibiotic resistance. In fact, probiotics likely lower the need for antibiotics due to their ability to ward off infections.

Senior investigator Dr. Daniel Merenstein, from the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, echoes these sentiments.

“This publication is proof-of-concept that taking probiotics on a regular basis deserves consideration as a way to reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics,” he explains, “Given the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic misuse, innovative strategies for addressing this problem are urgently needed.”

Read more about the study here