Dr Robert Martindale, gastro-intestinal surgeon at the Medical College of Georgia is organising a study to look at the role of probiotics against infection in intensive care patients. The randomised trial, which will involve about 400 patients, is the first of its kind in the US.
“When people are admitted to intensive care on broad-spectrum antibiotics, we know that 25 to 40 per cent of them will get an infection with a resistant bacterium during their stay,” says Dr Martindale.
Because antibiotics kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad, a disruption is set up in the intestinal tract making the linings more susceptible to bacterial invasion and weakening the immune system.
In the study, intensive care patients will either be given probiotics plus prebiotics, or a placebo, twice a day for 10 days. Dr Martindale hopes the results will encourage the acceptance of taking probiotics against infection of the body from foreign invaders and preventing diarrhoea.