Did you know probiotics are just as important as prenatal vitamins? Here's why!
Probiotics are just as important as prenatal vitamins because they reduce the likelihood of pregnancy complications including pre-eclampsia, preterm labor and birth, and GBS positive status and associated complications. Taking probiotics also reduces the likelihood of more benign discomforts of pregnancy including constipation, yeast infections, and the common cold. For this reason, it is recommended that all women taking probiotics with their prenatal vitamins to stay their healthiest through pregnancy and birth.
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Different continents, countries, and communities all have different health needs and challenges. Some communities have high rates of HIV/AIDS or malaria or lack of medical supplies. Others have rampant STDs or chronic anemia and young women or girls marrying too young, leading to high rates of maternal death. In the first world, there is an epidemic of chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases, digestive diseases, and cancer resulting from a damaged microbiome. A damaged microbiome is a microbiome that has more harmful bacteria than beneficial, an impaired immune response, and often includes gut dysbiosis or leaky gut. This is caused by consuming processed food, pharmaceutical drugs, and antibiotics as all of these cause beneficial bacteria to die and harmful bacteria to flourish. Gut dysbiosis is damaged gut flora that has holes allowing food in the digestive track to leak into the blood stream, causing autoimmune responses and diseases. Often, there are alternatives to harmful lifestyle decisions or medical interventions that could be used instead to avoiding damaging the microbiome.
Prenatal vitamins are considered to be a cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy with maternity care professionals of every kind recommending them, or prescribing them, in hopes of preventing fetal anomalies from nutritional deficiences, like spina bifida. New research has shown that a damaged microbiome, just like nutritional deficiencies, can lead to complications of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, which affect mother and baby, potentially causing our epidemic of chronic diseases. Complications of the childbearing year caused by gut dysbiosis and a damaged immune system include preterm labor and birth from over population of harmful bacteria, like in cases of yeast or bacterial vaginosis. Group beta strep infection of the infant, which can be fatal, is also a result of over colonization of GBS, a common bacteria that can cause disease when an excessive amount are exposed to at risk infants, and lack of beneficial bacteria. In addition, infants with an impaired microbiome and gut dysbiosis are more prone to colic, thrush, constipation, acid reflux, allergies, and more. This may be caused by interventions in pregnancy or birth or being fed formula instead of breastmilk.
Avoiding damage to the microbiome and adding beneficial bacteria to a unbalanced microbiome, must be a priority in maternity care to avoid these complications and diseases. Besides the reduction of pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics, and cesarean sections use, all of which damage the microbiome, probiotic therapy in pregnancy and postpartum has shown to reduce rates of yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy, GBS colonization in pregnancy and infants, preterm labor and birth rates, pre-eclampsia rates, and complications of newborns. Studies show that women who supplemented with probiotics in pregnancy, specifically with strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum, were less likely to be over-colonized with GBS. Since preterm birth is often caused by infection from harmful bacteria that thins the amniotic sac, careful attention to a healthy vaginal microbiome is a step toward prevention of preterm premature rupture of membranes, and preterm labor and birth. Antibiotic use increases the likelihood of over colonization of yeast, a risk factor for preterm labor and birth. When possible, natural remedies, like garlic, grapeseed extract, and probiotics supplementation and probiotic foods, like yogurt, should be used to prevent and treat yeast and bacterial vaginosus infections to prevent the need of further antibiotics and interventions. When interventions like antibiotics must be used, probiotic therapy should follow in order to replenish beneficial bacteria and prevent gut dysbiosis for mother and child, and the afore mentioned complications. Regular consumption of milk-based probiotics have shown to reduce inflammation in the placenta, greatly reducing pre-eclampsia rates. Comfortable, successfull breastfeeding must be a priority for all healthy professionals, including pediatricians, for the infant’s on going health and balanced microbiome. If formula must be used, probiotics should also be given to the infant to prevent current discomfort and future disease. With the goal of “doing no harm” and preventing disease, probiotic therapy is, indeed, just as important as prenatal vitamins in the childbearing year. There is great potential in encouraging all childbearing women to take probiotics and eat probiotic foods to lower the rates of chronic disease in the childbearing year and beyond.
Feasability of oral prenatal probiotics against maternal group beta strepococcus vaginal and rectal colonization: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24754328
Synergistic effect between two bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances produced by Lactobacilli Strains with inhibitory activity for Streptococcus agalactiae. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22231454
Inhibitor effect of vaginal lactobacilli on Group B streptococci: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15900833