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Antibiotics take toll on beneficial microbes in gut

It’s common knowledge that a protective navy of bacteria normally floats in our intestinal tracts. Antibiotics at least temporarily disturb the normal balance. But it’s unclear which antibiotics are the most disruptive, and if the full array of “good bacteria” return promptly or remain altered for some time.

In studies in mice, University of Michigan scientists have shown for the first time that two different types of antibiotics can cause moderate to wide-ranging changes in the ranks of these helpful guardians in the gut. In the case of one of the antibiotics, the armada of “good bacteria” did not recover its former diversity even many weeks after a course of antibiotics was over.

The findings could eventually lead to better choices of antibiotics to minimize side effects of diarrhea, especially in vulnerable patients. They could also aid in understanding and treating inflammatory bowel disease, which affects an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Americans, and Clostridium difficile, a growing and serious infection problem for hospitals.
 
 

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