Probiotics in the ICU: Can They Prevent, Fight Superbugs?

Probiotics in ICUs: Can They Prevent, Fight Superbugs?
Probiotics in ICUs: Can They Prevent, Fight Superbugs?

Probiotics did not help prevent or eliminate gastrointestinal colonization with drug-resistant organisms in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) vs. standard care, researchers presented. Findings from the study are published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine conducted a prospective, randomized-controlled pilot study over a 21-month period (n=70) in critically ill patients admitted to the ICU in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. They set out to determine if Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG could prevent gastrointestinal colonization of multi-drug resistant organisms (MRDOs), eg, Clostridium difficile, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus [VRE], and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Patients were followed for 14 days or until they left the ICU.

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The study team found no significant difference in overall acquisition of any MRDOs and mortality rates between the two groups. No adverse events related to the use of the probiotic were observed. Jennie H. Kwon, DO, lead study author, added that more research is needed to to evaluate the effectiveness in preventing intestinal colonization of drug-resistant organisms. Among the small study sample, follow-up duration, and focus on a single type of probiotic dose, Dr. Kwon noted the study was also limited to lower intestinal bacteria and did not evaluate possible impact on the bacteria colonized in the stomach or upper airways.

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