Probiotic use may decrease likelihood of antibiotic prescriptions among children

Using probiotics helped reduce antibiotic treatment given to infants and children, according to a study published in European Journal of Public Health.

Researchers pooled results from 12 studies. The probiotics used in the studies were strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Researchers found that infants and children were 29 percent less likely to be prescribed antibiotics if they received probiotics as a daily health supplement. Among the highest quality studies, the infants and children were 53 percent less likely to receive an antibiotics prescription if the had a daily dose of probiotics.

"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, a family medicine professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and senior study investigator. "The question is whether that reduction is solidly linked to declining use of antibiotics, and we see that there is an association."

However, Sarah King, PhD, the study's lead author from the United Kingdom, noted that further research, particularly in the elderly, is required "to see if sustained probiotic use is connected to an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions."

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