Preterm birth can have numerous negative effects on both you and your baby. If you deliver your child preterm, there could be pregnancy complications that interfere with the birth, and there will most definitely be higher costs associated with the post-delivery care of your child. More importantly, your child could be negatively affected, both in the short term and long term. Preterm delivery has been linked with a number of problems, such as anemia, breathing problems, and many chronic health issues. While many instances of preterm birth cannot be controlled, some data shows that taking probiotics during gestation could lessen the likelihood of preterm delivery. Preterm birth has been linked to an infection in some women that causes an inflammatory response, so probiotics treat this infection, and therefore counteract the preterm delivery.

Numerous studies do in fact show a link between the use of probiotics and decreased instances of preterm delivery. However, the studies should not be taken as truth without somewhat of a critical mindset. For example, although the use of probiotics was associated with a lesser instance of preterm delivery, previous births were not taken into consideration. Previous preterm deliveries are the number one indicator of a preterm delivery in current gestation. Additionally, socioeconomic status was not taken into consideration in the study that focused on probiotics. Women of a higher socioeconomic status are likely consuming more probiotics, but they also are probably in better health overall, which could have an effect on the instances of preterm delivery. No studies have removed these factors from the usage of probiotics, which makes the results difficult to analyze.

All in all, the links between taking probiotics during pregnancy and preventing preterm delivery exist, but many other factors could contribute. If you are worried about delivering your baby preterm, you should consider taking probiotics, as there are really no negative side effects. In fact, probiotics have many benefits. They benefit the colon, and they help convert fiber into fatty acids. So, while the effect of probiotics on preterm delivery might not be definite, probiotics are a good way to maintain balance in any woman’s body. If you are still worried about preterm delivery though, you should speak with your physician about preventative methods. Other treatments are known to prevent preterm labor. Additionally, staying healthy during your pregnancy by quitting smoking and watching your weight will lessen the likelihood of preterm birth.

Source: Jona Rushing and Josef Neu: Probiotics for Pregnant Women and Preterm Neonates. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 92 January 2011