Washington: Probiotics may not protect critically ill people from superbugs or drug-resistant microbes, new research has found.
Probiotics are live microorganisms believed to help restore the balance of intestinal bacteria and increase resistance to harmful germs.
"Probiotic use is an intriguing topic,” said lead author of the study Jennie Kwon, clinical researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
"With fewer therapies available to treat multidrug-resistant organisms, innovative methods to prevent or eliminate gastrointestinal colonisation are necessary,” Kwon noted.
However, the researchers found that compared with routine medical care, probiotics administered to critically ill patients in intensive care units showed no benefit in preventing the colonisation of drug-resistant microbes in the intestinal tract,
The pilot study followed 70 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Researchers studied whether the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG could prevent the intestinal colonization of superbugs.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive probiotics and routine care or routine care alone.
The researchers then monitored whether the microbes took up residence in the intestinal tract ? a first step to developing a full-blown infection.
The data showed that the drug-resistant microbes colonised the intestinal tracts of 10 percent of patients in the probiotic group and 15 percent in the standard-care group ? a difference that was not statistically significant.
"Although our findings suggest that probiotics do not help prevent gastrointestinal colonization with drug-resistant organisms in critically ill patients, further study is necessary in this field,” Kwon said.
The findings were reported in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.