Objectives: Maternal probiotic supplementation has been shown to prevent the development of atopic dermatitis in the offspring. We aimed to investigate whether probiotics in pregnant and breast-feeding mothers altered the colonization pattern and the diversity of the mothers' and children's intestinal microbiota.
Methods: In a randomized, double-blind trial, women received probiotic milk or placebo from 36 weeks of gestation up to 3 months postnatally while breast-feeding. The probiotic milk contained Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L acidophilus La-5, and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bb-12. Stool samples were collected from the mothers at 30 to 36 weeks of gestation and 3 months after birth, and from the child at age 10 days, 3 months, 1 year, and 2 years, and bacteria were analyzed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Additionally, stool samples from 3-month-old and 2-year-old children were characterized using 16S ribosomal RNA gene deep sequencing to estimate the bacterial classes and genera, and the α- and β-diversity.
Results: Three months after birth, both the prevalence and the relative abundance of the administered probiotic bacteria were significantly increased among the mothers in the probiotic group compared with among those in the placebo group. Only the Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG bacteria colonized the children at 10 days and at 3 months of age. There were no significant differences in the abundance of the administered probiotic bacteria between the groups at 1 and 2 years of age. For the bacterial classes and genera, and α- and β-diversity, there were no significant differences between the groups.
Conclusions: Different probiotic bacteria seem to have different ability to transfer from the mother to the child. We found no evidence that the probiotics altered the microbial composition or α- and β-diversity of the children.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00159523.