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Probiotic helps prevent pneumonia

A helpful bacterium has been used to combat a severe respiratory illness that often affects patients on hospital ventilators.

Research, published in BioMed Central’s journal Critical Care, found the application of Lactobacillus plantarum 299 is just as effective as normal antiseptics in preventing the most common cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

The bacteria work by out-competing the dangerous bugs found in the mouth, throat or breathing tube before they are breathed into the lungs.

Bengt Klarin, from the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, led a team of researchers who carried out the trial comparing friendly bacteria to the normally used antiseptic chlorhexidine (CHX).

Mr Klarin said: “We hypothesised that swabbing the mouth with probiotics would be an effective (and microbiologically attractive) method of reducing pathogenic oral micro-organisms in intubated, mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients.”

The authors found that the probiotic treatment was as effective as the antiseptic and did not have the same negative side effects associated with CHX use in oral care.

Mr Klarin added: “VAP is connected with longer intensive care and hospital stays, additional costs and high mortality. The risk of developing this condition increases by 1% with each additional day of mechanical ventilation.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

Critical Care