Probiotics, breastfeeding could reduce antibiotic resistance in children

Probiotics, breastfeeding could reduce antibiotic resistance in children

Combining probiotics and breastfeeding can help to reduce potential antibiotic resistance in children, according to new research at the 51st ESPHGHAN Annual Meeting.

Infants who were breastfed a specific probiotic strain of B. infantis had on average 87.5% less antibiotic resistance genes in their gut microbiome when compared to those breastfed infants receiving lactation support alone.

Within the supplemented infants, 38 antibiotic resistance genes were reduced, including genes associated with resistance to a wide range of drugs prescribed to treat respiratory, intestinal and urinary infections, as well as chlamydia and acne.

A growing public health concern

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health, with the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance gene carriage representing a growing health concern.

People are taking antibiotics on a frequent basis when they are not required to, with estimates suggesting that over half of all the antibiotics taken by humans are not actually needed.

Dr Giorgio Casaburi, lead author of the research, commented: “These results demonstrate that targeted bacterial supplementation is capable of remodelling the ecology of the infant gut microbiome and therefore [reducing] antibiotic gene reservoirs in children.

“We found that supplementation with the infant gut symbiont significantly diminished both the abundance and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes.”

The probiotic treatment

Casaburi and his team assessed the infants who received both exclusive breastfeeding and a supplementation of the probiotic for 21 days.

Following two weeks of supplementation, faecal samples were collected and compared with infants who received solely breastmilk, in order to evaluate the presence of antibiotic resistance genes.

The probiotic used in the research is uniquely adapted to thrive in the infant gut and is often missing from the microbiome of infants born in Europe today. In the absence of this protective bacterium, other bacteria colonise the gut microbiome and enable the evolution, persistence, and dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes.

Casaburi added: “The supplementation offers a novel approach towards providing an alternative, safe, and non-invasive method to decrease the number of genes that resist antibiotics in infants.

“This is the first demonstration of significant remodelling of the infant gut microbiome. This modulation could help to reduce the burden and diversity of antibiotic resistance genes in current and future generations.”


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