WELLINGTON, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Women who take a naturally occurring probiotic are less likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy, according to a New Zealand study out Tuesday.
The joint study by the universities of Otago and Auckland involved the probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, which was used to make fermented milk products such as yoghurt.
It was given in capsule form to 194 women from early pregnancy, while 200 women received a placebo.
Gestational diabetes was assessed at 24 to 30 weeks gestation.
"Using the current New Zealand definition for gestational diabetes, 6.5 percent of the women had diabetes in the placebo group, versus 2.1 percent in the probiotic group. This is a 68-percent reduction," said study leader Professor Julian Crane, of the University of Otago,
"We found that the protective effects were stronger among older women and were stronger among women who had previously had gestational diabetes," Crane said in a statement.
Fasting blood glucose was also significantly lower among women taking the probiotic compared to placebo.
"This is an exciting result suggesting that this probiotic may be interacting with the normal gut bacteria in some way to reduce glucose levels in pregnancy," he said.
The researchers previously showed that the same probiotic had effects on the immune system and reduced eczema by 50 percent in infancy.
The next steps would be to investigate whether the probiotic could reduce the increasingly common risk in the population of developing diabetes, said Crane.