Probiotics Have No Effect on Antibiotic Use in Patients With Asthma

HealthDay News — Taking probiotics did not reduce antibiotic use in patients with asthma, according to a study published in Annals of Family Medicine.

Timothy DH Smith, MBBCh, from the National Health Service East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving patients aged 5 years and older with asthma in a UK primary care setting. A total of 1302 participants were randomly assigned to either a control group (650 patients) or an intervention group (652 patients); the intervention was a postal leaflet with advice to take daily probiotics compared with a standard winter advice leaflet.

The researchers observed no significant difference in the primary outcome measure of the proportion of patients prescribed antibiotics for respiratory tract infections, with 27.7% and 26.9% of the patients in the intervention and control groups, respectively, receiving antibiotics (odds ratio [OR], 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.82 to 1.34). Probiotic uptake was low, but outcomes were similar for those who accessed probiotics (adjusted OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.69 to 1.69, compared with controls). There was no evidence of an effect on respiratory tract infections or asthma exacerbations.

“In this pragmatic community-based trial in people with asthma, we found no evidence that advising use of winter probiotics reduces antibiotic prescribing,” the authors noted.

Lab4 probiotics were provided for free by Cultech Ltd.

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Smith TD, Watt H, Gunn L, Car J, Boyle RJ. Recommending oral probiotics to reduce winter antibiotic prescriptions in people with asthma: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Ann Fam Med. 2016;14(5):422-430. doi: 10.1370/afm.1970.