Applied and Environmental Microbiology
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The nutritional status of pregnant women is vital for healthy outcomes and is a concern for a large proportion of the world's population. The role of the microbiota in pregnancy and nutrition is a promising new area of study with potential health ramifications. In many African countries, maternal and infant death and morbidity are associated with malnutrition. Here, we assess the influence of probiotic yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, supplemented with Moringa plant as a source of micronutrients, on the health and oral, gut, vaginal, and milk microbiotas of 56 pregnant women in Tanzania. In an open-label study design, 26 subjects received yogurt daily, and 30 were untreated during the last two trimesters and for 1 month after birth. Samples were analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and dietary recalls were recorded. Women initially categorized as nourished or undernourished consumed similar calories and macronutrients, which may explain why there was no difference in the microbiota at any body site. Consumption of yogurt increased the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium and decreased Enterobacteriaceae in the newborn feces but had no effect on the mother's microbiota at any body site. The microbiota of the oral cavity and GI tract remained stable over pregnancy, but the vaginal microbiota showed a significant increase in diversity leading up to and after birth. In summary, daily micronutrient-supplemented probiotic yogurt provides a safe, affordable food for pregnant women in rural Tanzania, and the resultant improvement in the gut microbial profile of infants is worthy of further study.
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