Notices: 39th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Dresden, Germany, June 7-10, 2006: Abstracts: PN2-19
The neonatal gut is sterile and gets firstly inoculated by maternal vaginal and gut microbiota, which is important for the priming of the neonatal mucosal and systemic immunity. Prebiotic oligosaccharides selectively stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli that are supposed to promote both colonic and systemic health through modification of the intestinal microbiota. We aimed to study the effects of dietary long term supplementation with non-digestible galacto- and fructo-oligosaccharides (GOS & FOS) during pregnancy on the maternal and neonatal gut microbiota as well as on a range of neonatal immune parameters.
In a prospective double blind, randomized, placebo controlled pilot study 33 healthy pregnant women received either 6g/day GOS and FOS (ratio 9:1) or maltodextrin from the 25th week of gestation until delivery.
Microbial composition of maternal and neonatal stool samples was determined by FISH and qPCR. Cord blood (CB) was phenotyped using FACS analysis. In vitro stimulation assays with mitogens and allergens were performed and cytokines were quantified by Bioplex.
The prebiotic supplement was well accepted by pregnant women. No statistical differences concerning incidence of side effects e.g. bloating, regurgitation, constipation and diarrhoea as well as maternal stool frequency, consistency and weekly vaginal pH-values were observed. Due to large intra-individual variations in the maternal microbiota composition, the total bacterial load and the median numbers of cells/ml of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli did not differ between both groups. However, supplementation with prebiotics was associated with increased percentages of total bifidobacteria in the maternal microbiota (p<0.01). Immune parameters did not differ significantly between both supplementation groups.
Long term supplementation with prebiotics was well tolerated by pregnant women and resulted in increased numbers of bifidobacteria in the maternal gut microbiota. The influence of the prebiotic supplementation on the development of the fetal gut colonization will be the topic of further investigations.