Is It a Good Idea for Pregnant Mothers to Take Probiotics?

A previous study has indicated that maternal probiotic administration was associated with a lower rate of atopic dermatitis.  The overall quality of evidence supporting this association is considered low.

A recent study (CK Dotterud et al. JPGN 2015; 61: 200-7) examined the effect on the intestinal microbiota in both mother and child following maternal perinatal probiotic supplementation. This randomized, double-blind trial examined the effect of probiotic administration (or placebo) from 36 weeks of gestation up to 3 months postnatally while breastfeeding. Stool microbiome was examined in both mother and child.

Key findings:

  • The changes in the infants microbiome were quite limited. “Only the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacteria colonized the children at 10 days and at 3 months of age. There were no significant differences in the abundance of administered probiotic bacteria between the groups at 1 and 2 years of age.”

My take: We know very little about probiotics and their effects on the GI tract. We often do not even the basics: which strains? which dosage?  optimal timing/when to use?  Given the lack of persistent change in the infant’s microbiome, does administration to pregnant mothers really make any sense (outside of research endeavors)?


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