Probiotics or prebiotics may not improve pregnancy outcomes

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A meta-analysis published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth finds no evidence that use of probiotics or prebiotics by pregnant women could lower the risks for preterm birth or other infant and maternal adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis of 21 studies identified through a literature search on the MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science and Cochrane databases. These were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which included women with a singleton pregnancy using a probiotic or prebiotic (n=4098).

Use of probiotics or prebiotics during pregnancy was not found to either increase or decrease the risk for preterm birth <34 weeks (relative risk [RR], 1.03; 95% CI, 0.29-3.64) as well as preterm birth <37 weeks (RR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.71-1.63). Probiotics or prebiotics also did not exhibit lower risks for other secondary outcomes including small for gestational age infants (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.35-3.06), large for gestational age infants (RR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.47-1.94), gestational diabetes (RR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.61-2.56) and premature preterm rupture of membranes (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.63-2.99).

The authors call for further studies considering type of probiotics, length of exposure and women’s characteristics. "Additional RCTs evaluating the safety or efficacy of taking prebiotics during pregnancy are also needed," they added.