Maternal Probiotic Supplementation Linked to “Beneficial” Infant Weight and Length

Probiotics-Infant -Weight-LengthA recent study found maternal supplementation with a Probiotic appears to be helpful in terms of baby length and weight at 12 months although it does not affect diarrhea incidence.

Over 200 healthy women, at 24 weeks to 28 weeks into their pregnancy participated in this study and were randomly assigned to three groups.  The first group (68 women) received no supplementation –group 2(70 women) received two servings of a daily supplement containing 7.9 grams of protein, minerals and multivitamins-group 3 (70 women) received the same daily supplement as group two enriched with a Probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis.   The study period began in the third trimester of pregnancy and lasted until at least 2 months after the babies were delivered.

At 12 months, researchers found the infants in group 2 and group 3 had gained more height and weight than those in group 1 (the non supplemented group).  Additionally even though the participants in group 2 and group 3 had higher caloric intakes, the mean maternal weight gain was comparable in all three groups at the time of delivery.  No statistically significant differences were seen between the groups in regards to the incidence of pregnancy-related or adverse fetal outcomes.  Lastly there was no difference in the incidence of infant diarrhea between the three groups.

Researchers did point out a few limitations found in the study.  First, supplement intake was not monitored after the two month postnatal period, nor did they assess any effects continued supplementation may have had on growth in infants who had been breastfed.  Next, researchers did not review the potential impact the supplements had on the composition of breast milk which may have had an effect on infant growth.  Lastly the study population was limited in the sense the participants consisted in women only in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy living in a specific region.

Further studies are needed.




Multi-Species Probiotics Affect Reaction to Sad Mood

Probiotics and SAD MoodA new study shows Probiotics significantly reduced cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which is a marker of vulnerability to depression and considered an important target for interventions.

20 healthy individuals with no current mood disorders participated in this 4 week triple-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pre-and post-intervention assessment designed study.  Participants in the study received either a placebo or a Multi Species Probiotic supplement.  The Probiotic supplement contained these species of friendly bacteria: Bifiodobacterium  bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobaciullus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactococcus lactis.   Cognitive reactivity to sad mood was determined using the revised Leiden index of depression sensitivity scale in both the pre- and post-intervention assessment.

Participants receiving the Probiotic supplement showed a significant reduction in their overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood.  This was largely seen in a reduction of aggressive thoughts and a reduction in ruminations (deeply considered thoughts about things).

It is believed that the brain and the intestines are closely connected by the gut-brain axis.  This study shows communications occur due to interactions with intestinal microbiota signaling molecules which play a role in brain regulation and behavior.  This may explain the positive mood effects often seen by individuals supplementing with Probiotic supplements.


Probiotics and Fish Oil During Pregnancy Could Cut Children’s Allergy Risk

Fish Oil-Probiotics-AllergiesA systematic review and meta-analysis, points to reductions in allergy and eczema risks in infants and toddlers.

Data from over 400 studies which involved over 1 million people was utilized in this review and meta-analysis.  Fish Oil supplements were taken by pregnant women beginning in the 20th week of pregnancy up until either the 3rd or 4th month of breastfeeding.  Researchers found a 31% reduction in egg allergy in the infants by the time they reached 1 year old.  A 38% reduction in peanut allergies was also seen in the group supplementing with Fish Oil.  Participants supplementing Probiotics saw a 22% reduction in their children’s risk of developing atopic Eczema by the time they reached 4 years of age.  Probiotic supplementation began around 36 to 38 weeks into the gestation cycle and lasted between 3 to 6 months of the breastfeeding cycle.

Avoidance of allergenic foods by the mother had no effect on a child’s risk of developing an allergy or an autoimmune disease.    Additionally beginning Fish Oil supplementation only during the breast feeding period had only a non-significant effect on reductions in egg allergies in offspring when compared to supplementation which began during pregnancy and lasted throughout the breast feeding period.  Probiotic supplements studied included the species Lactobacillus rhamnosus and doses found to be effective varied from between 1 and 10 billion Organism.

Further studies are needed.


Probiotics in Pregnancy Could Protect Against Childhood Obesity

Probiotics and Childhood ObesityAccording to researchers taking probiotics during pregnancy and breast feeding may modify genes related to obesity in both the mother and their infants.

15 pregnant women participated in this double-blinded randomized controlled (RCT) pilot study.  7 of the women were randomly chosen to supplement with a Probiotic which contained 10 Billion of each Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifiobacterium lactis strains of friendly bacteria.  The remaining 8 participants were given a placebo.  The dosing began on the participants first study visit which occurred while they were pregnant and lasted until the end of an exclusive breast feeding period with a maximum study period of 6 months.  Blood samples were taken from the mother’s prior to the commencement of supplementation with the Probiotic and between 6-12 months after the birth of their children.  Researchers reviewed the DNA methylation status of 623 obesity related and 433 weight gain related gene promoters, using the Ingenuity Pathway tool, in each blood sample taken.

Researchers found the levels of DNA methylation in some genes known to carry an increased risk for obesity, including the FTO gene the single most influential gene, were decreased in the group taking the Probiotic supplement.  The FTO gene has been associated with type II diabetes, obesity risk and body mass index.  Suggesting that Probiotic supplementation during pregnancy may have more applications beyond obesity, researchers found Probiotics had effects on the DNA methylation levels of genes involved with immunological and metabolic processes.  Further studies are needed.


Study Finds Probiotics May Improve Cognition in Alzheimer’s Patients

Probiotics and Cognition in Alzheimer'sAccording to a new study, probiotics may improve cognitive function in humans.  This is the first time research has shown supplementation of probiotics, friendly bacteria, may aid individuals with Alzheimer’s.

52 women and men between the ages of 60 and 95 with Alzheimer’s Disease participated in this randomized, double blind, controlled clinical trial.  The study lasted twelve weeks.  Half the patients were given milk enhanced with four strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. fermentum and Bifidobacterium Bifidum) the other half of the participants received only milk.  Blood samples for biochemical analysis were taken at the beginning and at the end of the study period.  Additionally cognitive function tests with MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination, a standard measure of cognitive impairment) questions were also given; this includes tasks like repeating a phrase, copying a picture, counting backwards from 100 by sevens and giving the current date.

Significant increases (from 8.7 to 10.6 out of a maximum of 30) on the average score on the MMSE questionnaire were seen over the 12 week study period in the group receiving the probiotics.  The control group did not see the same results (from 8.5 to 8.0 out of a maximum of 30).  The participants remained severely cognitively impaired even after the study ended, however the researchers believe the results seen in this study are important because they are the first to show probiotics can improve human cognition.  Prior studies showed probiotics could improve memory as well as impaired spatial learning in diabetic rats.

Probiotics are known for their benefits of provinding protection against irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, eczema, allergies, tooth decay and infectious diarrheas.  Scientists have believed for a long time that probiotics might improve cognition due to the continuous communication between the brain through the nervous system, immune system and hormones and between the intestinal microflora and the gastrointestinal tract (“microbiota-gut-brain axis”).

Further research is needed to determine if the benefits of probiotics grow stronger over a longer period of time.



Study Finds Link Between Gut Microbiota, Sleep Quality and Cognitive Flexibility

Sleep and ProbioticsAccording to a new study, poor sleep quality was linked with composition of the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility in healthy older adults.  Low amounts of bacteria in the phyla Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae, were associated with poor sleep quality as well as performance on specific cognitive tests.

Stool samples were provided by study participants.  Data on sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were also given by participants.  Cognitive flexibility was assessed through the completion of tests like the Stroop Color Word Test.  Results showed that when participants experienced better sleep both higher proportions of Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae were present and improvements were seen in better cognitive flexibility.

The bidirectional interaction between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract which is called the gut-brain axis has been increasingly gaining attention from both consumers as well as scientists.  Research links the microflora found in the digestive system to many markers of health including reduced anxiety levels, depression and overall general mood.  Scientific evidence shows partial sleep deprivation may change the gut microbiota.  Also seen in scientific literature is dysbiosis, a microbial imbalance, caused by shift work and jet lag which may actually promote glucose intolerance and obesity.

A 2014 survey by Datamonitor Consumer ranked insomnia as the fourth most relevant health issue experienced by Americans by percentage after stress, tiredness and fatigue, and allergies.  Middle aged women were the most worried about insomnia.



Probiotics Backed for Weight Loss Benefits

Weight Loss and ProbioticsA new meta analysis and review shows Probiotic supplementation containing various strains of Lactobacillus have been shown to cause a small but statistically significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

15 studies of Probiotic supplementation studies were reviewed.  Larger reductions in body weight, BMI (body mass index) and fat percentages were seen in the supplementation group when compared to the participants receiving a placebo.  Even short term supplementation with probiotics (Less than 12 weeks) show small reductions in fat percentage, BMI and body weight.

The studies included in the review lasted between 3 and 12 weeks.  All the studies but three used Lactobacillus.  More than one of the studies reviewed were not registered and were considered a higher risk of bias.

Other reviews done in the past have found similar conclusions on BMI and body weight reductions; however in some of those studies reviewed participants also received Prebiotics in addition to Probiotics.

Further long term studies are needed to examine the effects Probiotic supplements may have on different measures of body weight.