A recent study from Norway suggests that consuming probiotic milk can reduce the risk of developing two major pregnancy complications. However, the stage of pregnancy in which a woman consumes probiotic milk seems to play a role in reducing the risk of developing pregnancy complications. Researchers observed that women who consumed probiotic milk during early pregnancy had a lower risk for preterm or a premature delivery, compared to the pregnant women who never consumed probiotic beverages. They also observed a link between probiotic milk consumption during late pregnancy and a reduced risk of preeclampsia. It is a pregnancy complication wherein a pregnant woman experiences an elevated blood pressure and an increased protein excretion through urine. This condition can have serious effects throughout the body.
Both these pregnancy complications are associated with an increased inflammation in the body and are not expected during a normal pregnancy, according to lead author Dr. Mahsa Nordqvist, a gynecologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden. Probiotic beverages might help in reducing inflammation in the body and, therefore, significantly reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
The researchers analyzed data collected from around 70,000 pregnant women in Norway. These women participated in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The participating women completed questionnaires about their lifestyle habits at around 15th and 30th week of pregnancy, their health history, and information about their diets at 22nd week of pregnancy.
The questionnaires asked women regarding prior consumption of probiotic products before getting pregnant, as well as during early and late stages of pregnancy. Probiotic beverages and products are widely available and popular in Norway. Products such as milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus, kefir and yogurts might be considered similar to the probiotic milk described in the research.
The researchers found that consuming probiotic milk during late pregnancy reduced the risk of preeclampsia by around 20 percent, compared with not consuming probiotic milk during late pregnancy. Also, consuming probiotic milk in early stages of pregnancy reduced risk of preterm delivery by almost 21 percent, compared with not consuming probiotic milk during early pregnancy.
Therefore, the idea of reducing inflammation during pregnancy might reduce risk of complications. However, further research is required before doctors can make this diet recommendation to pregnant women for preventing pregnancy related complications.