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Probiotics in Pregnancy Could Have Diabetes Benefits

British Journal of Nutrition 103(12):1792-1799, 2010

In a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that probiotic-supplemented dietary counseling could help reduce the risk of diabetes during pregnancy, improve blood glucose control and improve child health.

Initiated in 2002, the study included 256 women, who were randomized during their first trimester of pregnancy into a control and dietary intervention group. The women, none of whom had any chronic diseases, all received dietary counseling provided by welfare clinics according to a national program.

The intervention group received additional intensive dietary counseling provided by a nutritionist at every study visit, the aim being a dietary intake complying with current recommendations, combined with conventional food products with favorable fat and fiber contents for use at home, the researchers said.

The intervention group was further randomized at baseline in a double-blind manner to receive either placebo capsules or probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium) at a dose of 1,010 colony-forming units per day each. The capsules were taken once per day and the intervention period extended from the first trimester of pregnancy to the end of exclusive breast-feeding.

The researchers evaluated pregnancy outcome and fetal and infant growth during 24 months of follow-up. All pregnancies were of normal duration and there were no adverse events noted in mothers or in children, which confirms the safety of this approach, the researchers said.

They noted that those women who had taken probiotics had a reduced frequency of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): 13% for the diet/probiotics group, compared to 36% for the diet/placebo group and 34% for the control group. In addition, the dietary counseling during pregnancy reduced the risk of fetal overgrowth, which is thought to predispose to later obesity.

“Probiotic intervention reduced the risk of GDM and dietary intervention diminished the risk of larger birth size in affected cases,” wrote the researchers. “The results of the present study show that probiotic-supplemented perinatal dietary counseling could be a safe and cost-effective tool in addressing the metabolic epidemic. In view of the fact that birth size is a risk marker for later obesity, the present results are of significance for public health in demonstrating that this risk is modifiable.”

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