How to reduce antibiotic use?
This week has seen the Daily Mail reporting that taking probiotics daily reduces the need for children to take antibiotics by almost a third.
The article is based upon the latest review paper on this subject to be published in the European Journal of Public Health.
The paper reviewed 17 randomised controlled trials in infants and/or children, where the primary objective was preventing acute respiratory tract infections, acute lower digestive tract infections or acute otitis media (middle ear infection).
It showed that infants and children who received friendly bacteria to reduce the risk of acute illnesses had a 29% lower risk of being prescribed antibiotics.
 King S et al 2018 Does probiotic consumption reduce antibiotic utilization for common acute infections? A systematic review and meta-analysis
Reducing antibiotic use is a must in the face of increasing antibiotic resistance, which is now known to be the biggest issue facing modern medicine.
Our own research has shown that children taking ProVen Probiotics Fit for School experienced a 30% reduction in absenteeism from school and 43% less visits to the GP (also reducing antibiotic prescriptions). And we often talk about the fact that antibiotics do not work for viral illnesses and that the best way of preventing viruses is to support the immune system on a daily basis.
This study looked at the opportunity of using friendly bacteria to replace antibiotics, thus helping to further reduce the need for antibiotics and in turn antibiotic resistance.
Personalised – yes or no?
Whilst discussion in the media over the past few weeks has centred around the need for probiotics to be personalised to the microbiome of each of us as individuals, this study goes some way to refute that assertion.
If you have a health issue, we would recommend taking a product with friendly bacteria that have been shown in clinical research to help with that issue – and personalising your diet and supplement programme in line with the requirements of your condition.
For healthy individuals, however, the approach should not be to personalise specifically to match the composition of their current microbiome, as the daily microbiome will be affected by what we eat, stress, exercise, illness and other factors. Taking a research-backed probiotic on an ongoing basis can help to maintain gut microbial balance and, as this review and the studies it analysed to show, might help to support health and reduce the need for medication.