Child Health and Probiotics: Study shows the Impact of Probiotics over Antibiotics
According to a recent review published in the European Journal of Public Health, the use of probiotics in babies and children has been shown to evidently reduce the requirement for antibiotics. The authors are of the opinion that these findings may lead to a contribution to mitigating the increase in the risk of resistance to antibiotics.
For this review over 17 studies previously published which assess the level of influence of wide ranges of various probiotic strains on the occurrence and validity of common infectious diseases found in the respiratory and digestive tracts in children, were taken into consideration; 12 out of which focused on the use of antibiotics taken for these infections.
It was seen that daily intake of probiotics lowers down the need for antibiotics by 29% in the children in comparison to the placebo group. Additionally, on reviewing the 5 most productive studies it was seen that the percentage was as high as 53%.
Co-author and researcher at Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Andi Shane says that “Taken together, the studies we included in this analysis demonstrated that probiotic supplementation is more effective than placebo for reducing the incidence or duration of certain illnesses: acute respiratory tract infections, acute digestive tract infections, and acute ear infections”, he further adds that “This analysis shows that, in addition to those advantages [reducing the incidence and duration of those illnesses], probiotic supplementation may reduce the use of antibiotics.”
Though, the actual mechanisms which explain the link between probiotics and reduction in antibiotic usage are presently not known, yet authors believe that considering the fact that about 75% of our immunity is based out in the gut so maybe the intake of probiotics can eventually lead to strengthening the immune system in order to combat pathogens more efficiently. Or might possibly lead to competitive inhibition of the pathogens present in the gut.
Currently, one of the most severe public health issues worldwide is growing antibiotic resistance. Even after several efforts to spread publicity and awareness on this issue, there still persists an alarming misuse of antibiotic consumption.
The study’s ( led by Sarah King ) senior investigator, Daniel Merenstein, professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine (Washington, DC), says“ Potentially one way to reduce the use of antibiotics is to use probiotics on a regular basis,” he highlights, “We already have evidence that consuming probiotics reduces the incidence, duration, and severity of certain types of common acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.”
He adds that before they started with the present analyses the question at hand was whether the decline in the symptoms of certain diseases was concretely connected to the reduction in the intake of antibiotics; in such a case it would evidently highlight that those benefits were the results of probiotics and not antibiotics.
But still, the authors are of the opinion that further follow-up studies are needed in this regard as the universe of the review is restricted to research only in infants and children. Due to the lack of homogeneity in all age groups so we cannot make for certain as to what recommendations should be given on the type and amounts of probiotics that will render them effective.