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Probiotics to support pregnancy

A host of research firms predict growth in the prenatal and postnatal supplement market, indicating growing interest in supplementation among new and expecting moms.

Human clinical studies have shown both mothers and their babies benefit from probiotic supplementation during pregnancy.

In a study of 67 pregnant women, researchers observed and classified the women as having normal vaginal flora, intermediate flora and bacterial vaginosis (BV).1 BV has been associated with health troubles including spontaneous abortion2 and pre-term birth.3

Lactobacillus crispatus was the most predominant strain present in the women with normal flora, followed by L. inersL. jensenii and L. helveticus.

While L. iners was commonly seen across the group with normal, intermediate or BV flora, L. crispatusL. jensenii and L. helveticus decreased significantly as the vaginal flora changed to intermediate and BV.

In women with BV, with the exception of L. iners, other species of lactobacilli were less frequently prevalent. Species such as L. rhamnosusL. fermentumL. paracasei and L. casei were not detected in any vaginal sample.

The study authors pointed to the potential of probiotics to prevent and treat BV. They wrote, “L. crispatusL. jensinii and L. helveticus were predominant species in women with normal flora. L. crispatus alone or in combination with L. jensinii and L. helveticus may be evaluated for probiotic properties for the prevention and treatment of BV.”

Gnosis’ Quatreflora (Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-3856), an exclusive strain of beneficial yeast, has been shown to help manage vaginal infections and maintain a balanced vaginal microflora. In a recent study, Quatreflora showed an inhibitory effect on Gardnerella vaginalis infection, a form of BV.4

Similarly, DuPont’s HOWARU® line of probiotics protected prenatal and postnatal health. In an Italian trial, 40 healthy women were given an oral dose of a probiotic complex (containing Dupont’s La-14® [4x109 CFU] and HN001 [1x109 CFU] plus lactoferrin) twice daily for 14 days.5 The complex lead to colonization of the vagina in nearly all subjects receiving the probiotic complex compared to those who did not.

This is an excerpt from the article, “Bumping up awareness for maternal, fetal health,” originally published in INSIDER’s Women’s Health digital magazine. Download the digital magazine to read the complete article.

Brenda Porter-Rockwell has a diverse background writing about nutraceuticals and healthy foods for a variety of trade and consumer publications, both print and online. She lives in North Carolina and can be reached at


  1. Yeruva T et al. “Vaginal lactobacilli profile in pregnant women with normal & abnormal vaginal flora.” Indian J Med Res. 2017 Oct;146(4): 534–540.
  2. Guerra B et al. “Pregnancy outcome after early detection of bacterial vaginosis.” Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2006;128(1–2):40–5.
  3. Leitich H et al. “Bacterial vaginosis as a risk factor for preterm delivery: a meta-analysis.” Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;189(1):139–47.
  4. S. Sabbatini C et al. “Saccharomyces cerevisiae-based probiotic as novel anti-microbial agent for therapy of bacterial vaginosis.” Virulence. 2018;9(1):954-966.
  5. De Alberti D et al. “Lactobacilli vaginal colonisation after oral consumption of Respecta(®) complex: a randomised controlled pilot study.” Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2015;292:861–867. DOI: 10.1007/s00404-015-3711-4.
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