Microbiology & Immunology Publications

Pilot assessment of probiotics for pregnant women in Rwanda

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Background While the global market for probiotics is soon to reach in excess of US$50 billion, the continent of Africa has been largely ignored, despite these products having the ability to reduce the burden of disease and death. Trial design The present randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial was undertaken in Rwanda, a country devoid of well-documented probiotics. The primary outcome aim was to examine receptivity and compliance for orally administered probiotic capsules containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 in pregnant women and assess any initial side effects or changes to the vaginal microbiome. Methods Pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 55 were recruited from the Nyamata District Hospital in Rwanda and randomly assigned to receive probiotic or placebo capsules for one month. Clinicians were blinded to the treatments. Results The drop-out rate was 21%, with 13 of 18 women in the placebo group and 17 of 20 in the probiotic group completing the study. Only 13 women returned for birthing and additional sample collection. No side effects of either treatment group were reported. Microbiota and metabolomics data showed similar findings to those reported in the literature, with low bacterial diversity and Lactobacillus dominance associated with a healthy vagina, and birthing associated with high diversity. Despite the small sample size and lack of changes in the microbiota, women in the placebo arm were significantly more likely to give birth pre-term. Conclusion Overall women were receptive to the probiotic concept, but the lack of information on such products and logistical and economical challenges pose problems for wider population engagement. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02150655

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