According to the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization
are defined as "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate
amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."
is a type of probiotic bacteria that is
found in the gut flora and has been effectively used in treating acute
diarrhea, infantile colic, rotavirus, and female urogenital tract infections,
amongst other conditions. Probiotics
i.e., naturally occurring bacteria are known to help maintain a healthy immune
system by providing strong protection against infections.
The general health and well-being of an employee is important to boost
the productivity and success of a company. Working in a steel industry could be
quite challenging in terms of alternating shifts, stress factors (heat, noise,
dust, etc.) all of which put together could take a toll on the employee's
health. To make the matters worse, increased numbers of respiratory and gastrointestinal
have been reported in these employees leading to high rates
of sick leave.
Many studies conducted in the past have demonstrated that regular intake
of a probiotic could reduce the duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal
diseases and even prevent their occurrence.
The safety and efficacy of the probiotic L.
also been demonstrated in many trials.
A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled parallel group design trial
was conducted from June 2012 to June 2013 at the ArcelorMittal steel company in
Bremen to investigate the high rates of employee sick leave in this company.
242 male employees aged
between 18 and 65 years participated in the study, to see if regular intake of the
probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri
17938) could have any effect on the rate of sick leaves, mainly due to
respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases suffered by them.
Participants of the study were randomly assigned to two groups;
intervention group and control group. The 121 participants in the intervention
group were assigned to take one chewable tablet containing at least 5 × 108
units of L. reuteri
over a total duration of 90 days, whereas the 121 participants in the control
group were assigned to take one placebo tablet per day.
During the study period, the participants
were asked to maintain a diary to report any symptoms mainly related to
respiratory and gastrointestinal tract such as cough, cold, sore throat,
headache, stomach ache, fever, vomiting, diarrhea as well as sick leave and the
duration of sick leave. The actual sick days where
the participant could not attend work was analyzed as the primary outcome and
the symptoms were considered as secondary outcomes.
Data of only 159 participants were available for intention-to-treat
analysis, since 83 participants did not return their diaries and therefore were
not considered in the final analysis.
After the total study duration of 90 days, it was seen that an average
number of sick days (due to respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms) in the
intervention group was reported to be 2.24 whereas in the control group, it was
reported to be 2.02 (p
demonstrating no statistically significant difference between the treatment and
The longest cumulative sick
leave for a single participant was reported to be 30 days in the
intervention group and 24 days in the control group. It was also seen that
about 65% of the participants in the intervention group and about 70% in the
control group did not report any sick leave due to respiratory and
gastrointestinal symptoms during the study period.
The only beneficial effect reported for the probiotic was prevention of diarrhea
(diarrhea was reported on 0.60 days
for intervention group versus 1.33 days in the control group; p
This results of the study demonstrated that the probiotic L. reuteri
did not reduce the number of
days of sick leave due to respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases among male
employees in the steel industry and the only statistically significant effect
seen was the prevention of diarrhea. Thus further research is warranted to
adequately investigate the results of the study.