Probiotic News

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Probiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are among the most important drugs currently available to modern medicine and have enabled the treatment of otherwise deadly infectious diseases. However, their wide use and especially their inappropriate use have led to the increased spread of antibiotic resistance.

To what extend probiotics can reduce the spread of antibitic resistance is still much under investigation, however, their use may contribute to better adherence to the antibiotic prescription.

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Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.


New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhoea – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.


Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.






Key facts


 Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.


 Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.


 Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.


 A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.


 Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality. 



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Antibiotic consumption and, in particular, inappropriate use are among the main causes underpinning the development of antibiotic resistance. In 2014, average antibiotic consumption in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) counties was about 20.5 defined daily dose per day (DDD) per 1 000 inhabitants.
Antibiotic consumption in the highest consuming country is more than twice the OECD average and 4.4 times higher than the lowest consuming country. Between 2005 and 2014 OECD countries have increased antibiotic consumption by an average of 4%





From the perspective of antibiotic use, probiotics have been observed to reduce the risk of certain infectious disease such as certain types of diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. This may be accompanied with a reduced need of antibiotics for secondary infections. Antibiotics tend to be effective against most common diseases, but increasingly resistance is being observed among pathogens. Probiotics are specifically selected to not contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance and not carry transferable antibiotic resistance. Concomitant use of probiotics with antibiotics has been observed to reduce the incidence, duration and/or severity of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. This contributes to better adherence to the antibiotic prescription and thereby reduces the evolution of resistance. (Ouwehand A., 2016, Probiotic approach to prevent antibiotic resistance


To what extent probiotics directly reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance is still much under investigation; but maintaining a balanced microbiota during antibiotic use may certainly provide opportunities for reducing the spread of resistances.


Source; Ouwehand A., et al. Probiotic approach to prevent antibiotic resistance. Annals of medicine, 2016






Key messages


 Probiotics may reduce the risk for certain infectious diseases and thereby reduce the need for antibiotics.


 Probiotics may reduce the risk for AAD.


 Probiotics do not contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance and may even reduce it.




Probiotics to prevent antibiotic resistance

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