Over the past month millions of children will have gone back to school, as well as bringing back enriched minds they may also be starting to bring various bugs and germs into the household. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Absenteeism has a huge financial impact on businesses as well as vital educational hours missed for children. There is also a substantial strain on our health care system to care for those with acute respiratory tract infections (#RTIs). In recent years there has been a growing interest in the role #probiotics play on health outcomes. The University of California have recently published a study showing how probiotic use can lead to large economic and health savings.
Previous reviews by York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) and the Cochrane Collaborative have reported how the use of probiotics have reduced both the number and duration of influenza-like illnesses (#ILI’s) as well as #antibiotic courses and days absent from work. The authors of this study developed an economic model to estimate the cost savings of the general use of probiotics in the U.S. Using a 1:1000 scale they reproduced a population representative of the national demographics, estimating the numbers of ILI cases, Doctor visits and missed school or workdays, using the 2017-18 Influenza Season databases. They then modelled two scenarios: one where everyone uses probiotics and one where no one does. According to the YHEC scenario generalised probiotic use could save $784 million per year for averted productivity loss related absence from work due to illness. In terms of medical bills, the Cochrane scenario showed health care payers would save $373 million in RTI associated medical bills over a year. With a strained health care system in the UK these figures are incredibly positive. The science and financial evidence is clear; probiotic use provides us with huge benefits.