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Probiotics Don't Keep Bad Bugs at Bay in Critically Ill: Study

Despite 'good' bacteria treatment, antibiotic-resistant bacteria still colonized ICU patients' intestines

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Probiotics don't protect the intestines of critically ill patients against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new study indicates.

"Probiotic use is an intriguing topic," lead author Dr. Jennie Kwon, a clinical researcher in infectious disease at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university news release.

"With fewer therapies available to treat multidrug-resistant organisms, innovative methods to prevent or eliminate gastrointestinal colonization [by bacteria] are necessary," she explained.

Colonization is the first step before a full-blown infection can develop, the study authors explained.

The current research included 70 patients in intensive care units who received either standard care or probiotics twice a day for up to two weeks.

Probiotics are live microorganisms -- popularly called "good" bacteria. Probiotics are believed to boost a person's resistance to harmful germs, the researchers said.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria colonized the intestines of 10 percent of patients who received probiotics and 15 percent of those who got standard care. However, this difference was not statistically significant, the researchers noted.

The study was published online Aug. 27 in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Drug-resistant bacteria pose a serious threat to hospital patients because they increase the risk of hard-to-treat infections that spread easily, the researchers said.

Kwon said that further study should be done to see if other groups of people, such as those who are less ill, might be helped with probiotics.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has more about probiotics.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, news release, Aug. 27, 2015
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