Probiotics linked to lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes

By Julie Griffiths on 24 January 2018 Research Pregnancy Premature Birth Good Health

New research suggests that drinking probiotic milk at certain points during pregnancy can influence the chance of mothers having preeclampsia and preterm birth.

Researchers found that pregnant women who drank probiotic milk in late pregnancy (but not before or in early pregnancy) were significantly associated with a decreased risk of preeclampsia.

Those who took probiotics during early (but not before or during late pregnancy) were significantly associated with a lower risk of preterm birth.

The study, set in Norway, involved 70,149 singleton pregnancies resulting in live births. Around 23% of the participants consumed probiotic milk before pregnancy, 37% drank it during early pregnancy and 32% consumed it during late pregnancy.

Among the 37,050 women included in the preeclampsia analysis, the condition was diagnosed in one in 20. Probiotic intake was associated with a 20% lower risk of the condition, but only during late pregnancy.

Among the 34,458 women included in the premature birth analysis, a significant association emerged between probiotic intake during early pregnancy and an 11% lower risk of premature birth, rising to 27 percent for preterm birth late in the pregnancy.

The findings show that the amount of probiotic consumed didn’t seem to make any difference. 

The researchers highlight that as an observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, so further research is required. 

They conclude: ‘If future randomised controlled studies support a protective effect of probiotic consumption on reduced risk of preeclampsia and preterm delivery, recommending [it] would be a promising public health measure to prevent these adverse pregnancy outcomes.’

Access the study, which was published in BMJ Open, here.