Taking probiotics during pregnancy linked with reduced risk of pre-eclampsia & premature birth

A new study, published in the open British Medical Journal[1], has found that pregnant women consuming probiotics in early and late pregnancy had a lower risk of premature births and developing pre-eclampsia.

The research was part of the Norwegian Mother and Child (MoBa) study.  This study followed 70,000 pregnancies where mums-to-be provided dietary, lifestyle and medical information at 15, 22 and 30 weeks of their pregnancies.  Questions about intakes of different milk products and probiotic use were also asked at 15 and 30 weeks.

Commenting on the study, Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Emma Derbyshire from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service said: “The results showed that probiotic intake during early pregnancy was associated with an 11 per cent lower risk of having a premature birth (when a baby is born before 37 weeks).  Probiotic intake in late pregnancy was also linked to a 20 percent reduced risk of pre-eclampsia”.

“These results certainly look promising and align with findings from other studies.[2],[3]  It was interesting to see that the amount of probiotic consumed did not make any difference on the results.  These results, however, do need to be treated with some caution as this was an observational study and findings need to be reconfirmed by randomised controlled trials.  These also need to test different probiotic strains and we need to better understand why probiotic use may have contributed to such findings.

“Presently in the UK around 1 in 10 pregnancies result in prematurity meaning that around 60,000 babies are born early each year.[4]  Alongside this up to 5 per cent of UK pregnancies are affected by pre-eclampsia.[5]

“The variables and unanswered questions in this study would need to be further explored and illuminated.  However, bearing the UK figures in mind, and if further trials reconfirm findings, the use of probiotics in pregnancy could have potentially meaningful implications in helping to prevent or reduce these conditions.”


[1] Nordqvist M et al. (2018) Timing of probiotic milk consumption during pregnancy and effects on the incidence of preeclampsia and preterm delivery: a prospective observational cohort study in Norway BMJ Open.

[2] Lindsay KL et al. (2013) Probiotics in pregnancy and maternal outcomes: a systematic review. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 26(8):772-8.

[3] Myhre R et al. (2011) Intake of probiotic food and risk of spontaneous preterm delivery. Am J Clin Nutr 93(1):151-7.

[4] https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/why-we-exist/premature-birth-statistics

[5] https://www.tommys.org/our-organisation/charity-research/pregnancy-statistics/pre-eclampsia