The metabolic effects of probiotic administration in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is unknown. The objective of this review was to investigate the effect of probiotics on fasting plasma glucose (FPG), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and LDL-cholesterol levels in pregnant women diagnosed with GDM. Seven electronic databases were searched for RCTs published in English between 2001 and 2017 investigating the metabolic effects of a 6-8 week dietary probiotic intervention in pregnant women following diagnosis with GDM. Eligible studies were assessed for risk of bias and subjected to qualitative and quantitative synthesis using a random effects model meta-analyses. Four high quality RCTs involving 288 participants were included in the review. Probiotic supplementation was not effective in decreasing FBG (Mean Difference = -0.13; 95% CI -0.32, 0.06, p = 0.18) or LDL-cholesterol (-0.16; 95% CI -0.45, 0.13, p = 0.67) in women with GDM. However, a significant reduction in HOMA-IR was observed following probiotic supplementation (-0.69; 95% CI -1.24, -0.14, p = 0.01). There were no significant differences in gestational weight gain, delivery method or neonatal outcomes between experimental and control groups, and no adverse effects of the probiotics were reported. Probiotic supplementation for 6-8 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in insulin resistance in pregnant women diagnosed with GDM. The use of probiotic supplementation is promising as a potential therapy to assist in the metabolic management of GDM. Further high quality studies of longer duration are required to determine the safety, optimal dose and ideal bacterial composition of probiotics before their routine use can be recommended in this patient group.
Keywords: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus; gut microbiota; insulin resistance; pregnancy; probiotics.