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Probiotics for healthy pregnancy?

Wednesday January 24th, 2018

Probiotics could help lower the risks of preeclampsia and premature birth, Swedish researchers say today.

Dr Mahsa Nordqvist and colleagues at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, explain that maternal inflammatory response is involved in the development of preeclampsia and premature birth.

In BMJ Open today (24 January) they write: "The pathogenesis of preeclampsia involves activation of the coagulation system and endothelial cell dysfunction. It is believed that this endothelial dysfunction is part of a wider maternal inflammatory response, present in normal pregnancy but exaggerated in preeclampsia."

They add: "As with preeclampsia, an increased inflammatory response seems to play a role in spontaneous preterm delivery. This is partly explained by microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity leading to activation of the innate immune system."

The team investigated the effect of probiotic milk before and during pregnancy in a study set in Norway, involving 70,149 singleton pregnancies resulting in live births. About 23% of had consumed probiotic milk products before pregnancy, 37% in early pregnancy, and 32% in late pregnancy.

This showed that probiotic milk intake in late pregnancy, but not before or in early pregnancy, was associated with a 20% lower preeclampsia risk. Probiotic intake during early, but not before or during late pregnancy, was linked to a 21% lower risk of preterm delivery.

"If future randomised controlled trials could establish a causal association between probiotics consumption and reduced risk of preeclampsia and preterm delivery, recommending probiotics would be a promising public health measure to reduce these adverse pregnancy outcomes," the team concludes.

Nordqvist, M. et al. Timing of probiotic milk consumption during pregnancy and effects on the incidence of preeclampsia and preterm delivery: a prospective observational cohort study in Norway. BMJ Open 24 January 2018; doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018021 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | Europe | Gastroenterology | Nursing & Midwifery | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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