Background: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition, in which women develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy without having diabetes. Evidence on the effects of probiotics on the blood glucose levels of women with GDM is inconsistent. Objective: The present study aimed to investigate the effects of probiotics on the blood glucose levels of pregnant women. Methods: Online databases, such as PubMed, Cochrane, and Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE) were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published before July 2018. Trials had to meet the inclusion criteria of our study. Methodological quality and risk bias were independently assessed by two reviewers. Data were pooled using a random effects model and were expressed as the mean difference (MD) and 95% confidence interval (CI). Heterogeneity was evaluated and quantified as I². Results: In total, 12 RCTs were included in this study. Studies have shown that the use of probiotics significantly reduced the fasting blood glucose (FBG) level (MD: -0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.19, -0.02), insulin concentration (MD: -2.24 μIU/mL; 95% CI: -3.69, -0.79), Homeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) score (MD: -0.47; 95% CI: -0.74, -0.21), and Homeostasis model of assessment-estimated β cell function (HOMA-B) score (MD: -20.23; 95% CI: -31.98, -8.49) of pregnant women. In a subgroup analysis, whether the blood glucose-lowering effect of probiotics influenced the diagnosis of pregnant women with GDM was assessed. The results showed that probiotics had significantly reduced the fasting blood glucose (FBG) level (MD: -0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.17, -0.04) and HOMA-IR score (MD: -0.37; 95% CI: -0.72, -0.02) of pregnant women who were not diagnosed with GDM. Conclusion: Probiotics reduce the blood glucose level of pregnant women, especially without GDM diagnosis. However, further research using RCTs must be conducted to validate the results of the present study.
Keywords: fasting blood glucose; gestational diabetes; insulin concentration; pregnant women; probiotics.