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Taking probiotics during pregnancy may lower pre-eclampsia risk

Women taking probiotics during pregnancy might have a lower risk of pre-eclampsia and premature birth, new findings suggest.

The results may influence nurse practice in the future as the consumption of probiotics during different stages of pregnancy was connected to better outcomes for mother and baby.

Women who took probiotics during late pregnancy had a 20% reduced risk of developing pre-eclampsia, compared to those who did not take any probiotics. But this effect was not seen for women taking probiotics during early pregnancy.

However, probiotic intake during early pregnancy did reduce the risk of preterm delivery by 21%, compared to women who did not take probiotics.

The amount of probiotic consumed didn’t seem to make any difference to the outcomes.

The potential health advice for pregnant women is based on observational research on more than 37,000 women in Norway, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The researchers found a growing body of evidence that suggests that the mother’s diet influences the outcome of pregnancy. Previous research has suggested that probiotics might reduce certain complications of pregnancy.

To find out whether the timing of intake might be influential, the researchers used data on more than 70,000 pregnancies from the Norwegian mother and child cohort study (MoBa).

As part of the MoBa study, pregnant patients provided information on their diet, lifestyle, medical history, and other relevant background factors at 15, 22, and 30 weeks of pregnancy.

At 15 and 30 weeks, the questions included additional information on intake of different milk products containing probiotic bacteria before and during their pregnancy.

Lead author Mahsa Nordqvist, an obstetrician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, said: 'Probiotics might have a protective effect against adverse pregnancy outcomes and timing of probiotic intake might be relevant. If future randomised controlled studies support a protective effect of probiotic consumption on reduced risk of pre-eclampsia and preterm delivery, recommending [it] would be a promising public health measure to prevent these adverse pregnancy outcomes'.

BMJ Open, online 24 Jan