Probiotics during pregnancy may reduce disease, improve health of newborn: Taiwanese neonatologist

Dr. Jen-Her Lu presented findings on probiotic supplements for expectant mothers at the Taiwan Microbiome Congress

(Photo: pixabay user Public Domain Images)

(Photo: pixabay user Public Domain Images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At the Global Engage Microbiome and Probotics Congress taking place March 6-7 in Taipei, a satellite meeting of the Taiwan Microbiome Congress showcased some important research on health science.

One presenter at Tuesday's conference, Doctor Jen-Her Lu (陸振翮), discussed current research on prenatal probiotic supplements for expecting mothers.

Although there are still conflicting views on the manner and dosage of probiotics supplements during pregnancy, there is evidence that suggests limited use of probiotics can reduce the risk of premature birth, post-natal infection, and possibly lead to healthier immune systems in children.

Lu observed that in more than 30 percent of cases of premature births, the mother suffers from some manner of bacterial infection. From this premise, researchers suggest that pregnant women, especially those in late term, taking probiotc supplements may be beneficial for health of newborns. By reducing or eliminating bacterial infections, many premature births could be avoided.

When asked about the primary take-away of his presentation, Lu noted that the consensus and research on the efficacy of probiotic supplements for pregnant women may be dependent on one's region of the world, with evidence suggesting that the higher quality of probiotics found in developed countries could account for positive results of the supplements in trials that have been conducted.

On the other hand, trials conducting in developing countries may indicate that probiotics supplements have little to no effect on the health of newborn children.

Lu referenced three clinical trials, in two of the trials on probiotic supplements, mothers gave birth to seemingly healthier newborns newborns with a higher weight average than those who did not. In the third trial, however, there appeared no discernable difference.

Although there is still plenty of research to be done, especially regarding dosage and customizing probiotics to target specific bacteria. However, there appears to be a growing amount of scientific evidence that probiotics can improve the microbial ecology of expectant mothers, which may translate into healthier immune systems for children.

Currently in Taiwan, health care providers can prescribe probiotic supplements to expectant mothers if requested.

Dr. Jen-Her Lu at the Taiwan Microbiome Congress (Taiwan News Photo)