A simple study for today’s post but also, a really, really, REALLY important one.
Researchers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia did a meta-analysis, covering 6,851 patients, looking at whether or not giving a multi-strain probiotic reduces the incidence of Clostridia difficile infection (C.diff) in adults and children taking antibiotics.[i]
I wrote about this hellish bacterium back in March. About 500,000 people develop an infection each year in the USA alone, and of those, 15,000 will die within the month. C.diff is a killer. Remember too, it is highly associated with autism. I’ve also written about that several times: you can read more about that here, for example. The biggest risk factor for developing a C.diff infection is exposure to antibiotics.
(As you can imagine, having had a baby that was loaded with antibiotics at birth, who subsequently went on to develop a C.diff infection, autism and inflammatory bowel disease, I have kept a close watch on the research in this realm.)
Anyway, so back to today’s science: these researchers found that the risk of developing an infection goes down when the patient is given a probiotic during antibiotic treatment (as you would expect) and goes up when the patient is given 2 or more antibiotics (as you would expect also). “Moderate quality…evidence suggests that probiotic prophylaxis may be a useful and safe CDI prevention strategy…”[ii]
Innumerable times over the years I have wished someone in the hospital would have told me to put Alex on probiotics. Hopefully now doing so has become common practice. Such a simple thing to prevent so much suffering.
[ii] Johnston, BC, et. al. Microbial preparations (probiotics) for the prevention of Clostridum difficile infection in adults and children: an individual patient data meta-analysis of 6,851 participants. Infection control & Hospital Epidemiology. 2018:39(7):771-781.