Improved understanding of the bacterial vaginal microbiota of women before and after probiotic instillation
Journal of clinical gastroenterology
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For the survival of humankind, nothing can be as important as the health of a mother and a child. As the world's population grows to more than 6 billion, it might seem ridiculous to suggest that any real threat exists to the human species. Diseases have long ravaged populations, as have wars, poverty, and malnutrition. Life today is no different with new and emerging diseases such as SARS and Mad Cow Disease leaving a trail of concern around the planet. All that being said, the AIDS crisis is threatening humans like no other. In countries such as Botswana, close to half the population of pregnant women is infected. Of great concern, the disease is now prevalent among women and teenage girls, threatening not only their lives but those of their offspring. Efforts to control this spread are quite abysmal, albeit well intentioned. Likewise, the death of a child every 15 seconds from diarrheal disease is not being addressed with the same vigor as SARS, even though the risk of dying from the latter for most people is similar to being struck by lightning. In the end, it is the economy and politics that dictate health spending. Image and perception are everything. While deaths mount among women and children from AIDS and other infections, the potential to intervene with a low-risk natural concept of probiotics seemed all too distant. As evidence mounts of the attributes of certain probiotic strains to treat diarrhea and reduce the risk of urogenital and other diseases, the developing world has failed to embrace it, support its evaluation and implementation, and take it to where it is needed the most. In this review, the case for and against probiotics for urogenital and intestinal infections is presented based on current literature. The story is far from complete, but the potential for improving the health of the mother and child is significant. United Nations and World Health Organization guidelines have now been developed to vanquish the unproved marketing hype products that have given probiotics a bad name. It is now up to science to deliver the remedies, and to society to make sure that only proven products reach the marketplace and the people in most need.