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Probiotics: a potential role in the prevention of gestational diabetes?

  • Barrett, Helen L.1, 2, 3
  • Callaway, Leonie K.2, 3
  • Nitert, Marloes Dekker1, 2
  • 1 The University of Queensland, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Building 71/918 Herston Campus, Level 7, Brisbane, QLD, 4029, Australia , Brisbane (Australia)
  • 2 The University of Queensland School of Medicine, Brisbane, QLD, Australia , Brisbane (Australia)
  • 3 Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, 4029, Australia , Brisbane (Australia)
Published Article
Acta Diabetologica
Springer Milan
Publication Date
Nov 21, 2012
Suppl 1
DOI: 10.1007/s00592-012-0444-8
Springer Nature


The gut microbiome has a complex relationship with host metabolism and immune function. Host health and diet influence the composition of the gut microbiome, and conversely, different microbiome compositions influence host metabolism. Gestational diabetes mellitus is increasingly common and has serious implications for maternal and foetal health both during pregnancy and later in life. To date, clinical trials of exercise and dietary interventions to prevent the onset of gestational diabetes have had heterogeneous results and have proven disappointingly difficult. Alternative prevention strategies of gestational diabetes mellitus need to be considered and trialled in a placebo-controlled manner in combination with dietary and behavioural measures. One such potential preventative therapy is probiotic supplementation, that is, ingestion of specific bacterial strains with beneficial effects on the host. Probiotic supplements have been shown to improve metabolism by increasing host insulin sensitivity, cholesterol metabolism and also have a beneficial effect on the immune system. This discussion paper examines the evidence for the influence of the gut microbiome on host metabolism and the potential metabolic impact of probiotic supplementation, with particular regard for the evidence surrounding a possible use of probiotic supplements for the prevention of gestational diabetes. Probiotics offer the tantalising possibility of a feasible intervention for the prevention of gestational diabetes and improvement of metabolic syndromes, but there is a pressing need for further studies of the mechanisms underlying the apparent metabolic benefits and for the use of randomised controlled trials to allow examination of the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation in this setting.

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