Pregnancy related diseases are notorious for the potential threat they pose on the lives of both the mother and the child. Most of them are also very difficult to treat. A number of factors lead to the complicacy of the situation and many times out of control. e.g., one of the reasons behind the high risk of preterm labour and neonatal mortality is bacterial vaginosis (bacterial infection of the vagina). Therefore, prenatal care offers one of the greatest challenges in the field of medical practice. Safe methods are prerequisite to have fruitful and effective solution as the therapeutic protocols undertaken would influence the lives of the mother and babies both on short and long term basis. The prevention methods should then focus on the use of natural and safer drugs and probiotics can definitely be the choice under the current scheme of events. A host of scientific and medical studies signify the importance of the use of probiotics in reducing pregnancy associated complications.
Facilitating glucose metabolism in pregnant women:
There were previous reports to demonstrate that a balanced metabolism of glucose can reduce many of the pregnancy associated risks and provide both the mother and the infant health benefits on long term basis. A study headed by Dr. Kirsi Laitinen showed that the administration of L. rhamnosus and B. lactis strains modulated the plasma glucose content and provided health benefits to women during the period of pregnancy and even after it. It also resulted in decreased glycated Hb levels in the blood. The study also provided the first ever evidence of improvement in consistent human glucose metabolism thereby presenting the clinical evidences of effective cross communication between the hosts and the microbiome in the metabolism of glucose. Another thrust point of the use of probiotics in this case is the length of the period of benefit. Some of the studies have shown the effect of probiotics to be extending well upto 7 years. The probiotics can induce the sufficient modifications in the composition of the intestinal microbiota to cause the required metabolic changes. The probiotics aid in nondigestible polysaccharides thereby increasing the pool of glucose that can be absorbed. They also stimulate the transcription of lipase activity increasing genes and help in storage of glucose in the adipose tissues. The probiotics also induce the NF-κB and CD14 pathways that result in activation of the innate immunity through the TLR which can be of particular interest with respect to lower insulin resistance. According to a recent study, the gut microbiota composition has been found to be a deciding factor in energy metabolism. Cani et al. showed an inverse correlationship between the levels of fat feeding in individuals with the Bifidobacterium content. It was also found that a higher number of Bifidobcterium enhanced glucose tolerance. The use of probiotics in the modulations of microbial composition of the gut to attain a changed immunological response by the intestine may provide a novel means of glucose metabolism regulation. This approach is also cost effective considering the critical events of pregnancy where it can provide relief.
Reduction in bacterial vaginosis:
The infection of the vaginal tracts by pathogenic bacteria is a major cause of pregnancy associated complications like preterm labour and increased rate of neonatal mortality in women throughout the world. The use of therapeutic interventions like antibiotics has been partially beneficial and could not curb incidences of preterm birth. Studies have revealed the near absence of vaginal lactobacilli in cases of bacterial vaginosis and the ensuing question is whether the probiotics can reverse this trend given the potential of probiotics to inhibit their pathogenic counterparts. Indeed it has been found that the beneficial microbes can restore back the microflora and increases the possibility of a good and healthy pregnancy term. Therefore, the reason behind the use of probiotics in such cases has a strong background. The group of Giuseppe et al. suggested that after post administration some of the strains of lactobacilli can have safe vaginal colonization whereby they can remove and kill the pathogenic bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis. The probiotics can also perturb the inflammatory responses in immune system to good effect that alleviate problems of preterm birth. In addition, the beneficial bacteria aids in the degradation of lipids increase the levels of cytokines. These factors help in the promotion of embryo development. Taken together, the probiotics can definitely be an answer to the problems of vaginal bacteriosis.
Lowering of infant diseases:
The post birth neonatal health is a reason of great concern as atopic diseases like eczema is quite prevalent and increased cases are being reported throughout the world. Breast feeding (the basic source of nutrition in infants) have been found to be effective in combating this problem although the exact means by which it provides the protection is unknown. Whether probiotics can increase the inhibitory response to the disease is a matter of great interest. Samuli Rautava, MD, Turku University Hospital, Finland carried out a study with 62 pairs of mother-infant. According to the work, probiotic administration to pregnant mother enhanced the immuno potential of the breast milk as was evident from the increased levels of TGF-β2 in probiotic recipient mothers. As a result cases of atopic eczema were reduced significantly in infants where the mother received probiotic supplements. As reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, it is observed that infants with higher concentration of cord blood IgE were most likely to be benefitted from such supplementation. Our understanding of the mechanism behind the use of probiotics in treatment of infant atopic diseases is paltry and a deeper insight into it is needed. This is revealed by the work of Wickens et al. that proposes that the L. rhamnosus receiving group showed lesser atopic eczema severity as compared to the group that received Bifidobacterium animalis strain. However, there are existing reports of the beneficial effects of using Lactobacilli to prevent infant eczema and it only augurs well for the inhibition of the disease.
Scientist like Reid suggests a high safety record for the probiotic use during pregnancy. Hence, Probiotics possess all the beneficial traits to be exploited as a safer means of therapeutic intervention in pregnancy related complications and other adverse effects like maternal metabolism and infant health.