Probiotic use reduces the need for antibiotic therapy in infants and children, according to results of a new study.1
“We already have evidence that consuming probiotics reduces the incidence, duration, and severity of certain types of common acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections,” said Daniel Merenstein, MD, the study’s lead author and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
“The question is whether that reduction is solidly linked to declining use of antibiotics, and we see that there is an association.”2
To conduct their review, the researchers analyzed data from 17 randomized controlled trials with a primary aim of preventing acute respiratory tract infections, acute lower digestive tract infections or acute otitis media in infants and children.
Probiotic use ranged from 4 days to 9 months, and the probiotics administered in the studies were strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Results showed that fewer antibiotic prescriptions were given to infants and children who received probiotics (pooled relative risk, 0.71), compared with those who received a placebo.
Secondary analysis results of 5 studies with a low risk of bias showed an even lower pooled relative risk (0.46).
“Given this finding, potentially one way to reduce the use of antibiotics is to use probiotics on a regular basis,” Merenstein concluded.2
King S, Tancredi D, Lenoir-Wijnkoop I, et al. Does probiotic consumption reduce antibiotic utilization for common acute infections? A systematic review and meta-analysis [published online September 14, 2018]. Eur J Pub Health. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cky185.
Probiotic Use May Reduce Antibiotic Prescriptions, Researchers Say [press release]. Washington, DC; Georgetown University Medical Center: September 24, 2018.https://gumc.georgetown.edu/news/Probiotic-Use-May-Reduce-Antibiotic-Prescriptions. Accessed September 14, 2018.