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Take probiotics with prescribed antibiotics to reduce damage to gut microbiome, says first review of data — ScienceDaily


Millions of antibiotics are prescribed every year. Although they can be incredibly effective at treating infections, antibiotics usually don’t just target the bacteria that’s causing the infection. They also kill the harmless bacteria that live in our gut and help us stay healthy. There is evidence that this disruption of the composition of the gut microbiome can persist for up to 2 years after antibiotic treatment. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and bloating are also common side effects of antibiotic use.

Dr. Eliza Marroquin, associate professor at Texas Christian University, USA, and co-author of the paper, explained:

“Just like in the human community, we need people with different professions because we don’t all know how to do every single job. The same thing happens with bacteria. We need many different gut bacteria that know how to do different things.

“Even though we haven’t come up with a single definition of what constitutes a healthy gut microbiome, one of the consistent things we see in healthy people is that they have higher levels of diversity and a greater variety of bacteria in the intestines.”

Previous studies have shown that taking probiotics can reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of antibiotics, but there is controversy over whether taking probiotics along with antibiotics can also preserve the diversity and composition of gut microbes. Some healthcare professionals are reluctant to recommend probiotics alongside antibiotics for fear of further altering the delicate balance of microbes in a patient’s gut.

New work published in Journal of Medical Microbiology reports the first systematic review to evaluate the effect of taking probiotics together with antibiotics on the diversity and composition of the human gut microbiome. The review, prepared by researchers from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Monterey Tech University and Texas Christian University, assessed trends in 29 studies published over the past seven years.

The authors found that taking probiotics along with antibiotics can prevent or reduce some of the antibiotic-induced changes in gut microbiome composition. Probiotics can also help protect species diversity and even restore populations of some friendly bacteria, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitziiwhich reduces inflammation and promotes a healthy intestinal barrier.

Dr Elisa Marroquin said: ‘When participants take antibiotics, we see several consistent changes in some types of bacteria. But when the treatment was combined with probiotics, most of these changes were less pronounced, and some changes were completely prevented.

“Given the human data available to date, there appears to be no reason to withhold probiotics when antibiotics are prescribed.”

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Materials is provided Society for Microbiology. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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