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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Probiotic Dairy Products Linked to Lower Risk for Preterm Delivery

Laurie Barclay, MD

November 4, 2010 — Women who report habitual intake of probiotic dairy products have a lower risk for spontaneous preterm delivery, according to the results of a prospective cohort case-control study reported in the October 27 online issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Preterm delivery represents a substantial problem in perinatal medicine worldwide," write Ronny Myhre, from the Department of Genes and Environment, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues. "Current knowledge on potential influences of probiotics in food on pregnancy complications caused by microbes is limited.... We hypothesized that intake of food with probiotics might reduce pregnancy complications caused by pathogenic microorganisms and, through this, reduce the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery."

Participants in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort completed a food frequency questionnaire allowing determination of milk-based products containing probiotic lactobacilli. The investigators studied the association between probiotic dairy intake and spontaneous preterm delivery (< 37 gestational weeks) among 950 patients and 17,938 control subjects, after adjustment for parity, maternal educational level, and physical activity.

In an adjusted model, pregnancies resulting in spontaneous preterm delivery were associated with any intake of probiotic dairy products (odds ratio [OR], 0.857; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.741 - 0.992; P = .038). There was a significant association for high intake of probiotic dairy products (OR, 0.820; 95% CI, 0.681 - 0.986), when intake was categorized as none, low, and high.

"Women who reported habitual intake of probiotic dairy products had a reduced risk of spontaneous preterm delivery," the study authors write. "...Our finding is of importance to perinatal care and has the potential to improve current pregnancy health care. Intake of milk products that contain probiotics might influence and reduce pregnancy complications, possibly through an effect of probiotics on vaginal tract infections and a reduction in overall inflammatory state in keeping with a systemic inflammation hypothesis."

Limitations of this study include use of food frequency questionnaires, lack of confirmation through examination of vaginal microbiota, and known but unmeasured confounders.

"Further investigation is warranted with the use of randomized controlled trials for evaluation as to whether to view presence of foods containing probiotics as protective and their absence as a risk factor for sPTD [spontaneous preterm delivery] and to improve understanding of health complications during pregnancy to further facilitate effective health promotion strategies," the study authors conclude. "Successive reduction in sPTD may be achieved by targeting dietary health issues and evaluating intake of probiotics, with consideration of nutritional interventions early in pregnancy or prepregnancy."

The Norwegian Ministry of Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Norwegian Research Council/Functional Genomics programme supported this study. The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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