Supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Bifidobacterium lactis probiotics in pregnancy increases cord blood interferon-gamma and breast milk transforming growth factor-beta and immunoglobin A detection

Clin Exp Allergy. 2008 Oct;38(10):1606-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2008.03061.x. Epub 2008 Jul 2.


Background: This study explored the effects of maternal probiotic supplementation on immune markers in cord blood (CB) and breast milk.

Methods: CB plasma and breast milk samples were collected from a cohort of women who had received daily supplements of either 6 x 10(9) CFU/day Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (n=34), 9 x 10(9) CFU/day Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 (n=35) or a placebo (n=36) beginning 2-5 weeks before delivery and continuing for 6 months in lactating women. CB plasma and breast milk (collected at 3-7 days, 3 months and 6 months postpartum) were assayed for cytokines (IL-13, IFN-gamma, IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-10, TGF-beta1) and sCD14. Breast milk samples were also assayed for total IgA.

Results: Neonates of mothers who received a probiotic had higher CB IFN-gamma levels (P=0.026), and a higher proportion had detectable blood IFN-gamma levels, compared with the placebo group (P=0.034), although levels were undetectable in many infants. While this pattern was evident for both probiotics, when examined separately only the L. rhamnosus HN001 group showed statistically significant higher IFN-gamma levels (P=0.030) compared with the placebo group. TGF-beta1 levels were higher in early breast milk (week 1) from the probiotic groups (P=0.028). This was evident for the B. lactis HN019 group (P=0.041) with a parallel trend in the L. rhamnosus HN001 group (P=0.075). Similar patterns were seen for breast milk IgA, which was more readily detected in breast milk from both the B. lactis HN019 (P=0.008) and the L. rhamnosus HN001 group (P=0.011). Neonatal plasma sCD14 levels were lower in the B. lactis HN019 group compared with the placebo group (P=0.041).

Conclusion: The findings suggest that supplementation with probiotics in pregnancy has the potential to influence fetal immune parameters as well as immunomodulatory factors in breast milk.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / drug effects
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / immunology*
  • Fetal Blood / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / immunology
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Milk, Human / microbiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / immunology
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interferon-gamma