A study published in BMJ Open suggests that women who consumed probiotic milk during pregnancy may have a reduced risk of preeclampsia in late pregnancy. In addition, they found that consuming probiotic milk during early pregnancy may lower the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery.
For this observational study, the researchers examined data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and included 70,149 pregnancies that resulting in live births in the analysis. There were 37,050 nulliparous women who were included in the preeclampsia analysis and 34,558 cases included in the preterm delivery cohort. Preterm birth was defined as delivery between 22 and 36 gestational weeks. The participants answered questionnaires, including questions about intake of two different milk products that contained probiotic/lactobacilli before pregnancy and at various times during pregnancy.
The researchers found that about 23% of women reported consuming probiotic milk before pregnancy, about 38% consumed it during early pregnancy, and almost a third during late pregnancy. Women who consumed probiotic milk were more likely to be older, already had one child, had a BMI < 25, did not smoke, and used dietary supplements. Their education and family income levels were also higher.
There were 1,851 women diagnosed with preeclampsia (5%), including 550 cases of severe preeclampsia. There was no significant association between probiotic milk prior to pregnancy or during early pregnancy and reduced risk of preeclampsia. However, when examining severe preeclampsia only, there was a significant link between probiotic milk and reduced risk of preeclampsia in late pregnancy.
There were 2,858 cases of preterm birth, including 1,795 spontaneous preterm deliveries and 1,063 medically necessary preterm deliveries. While there was no significant association between probiotic milk in late pregnancy and preterm delivery, the researchers found a significant link between probiotic milk consumption during early pregnancy and lower risk of late preterm delivery in weeks 34–36 in a subgroup analysis. In addition, probiotic milk consumption during early pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of spontaneous preterm delivery when examining preterm delivery by type.
The researchers concluded that “if future randomized 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.”