Erika, you have a research interest in microbiota and obesity. You are looking at long-term health outcomes concerning non-communicable diseases. Specifically, you led an intervention study in which you looked at pregnant women. Can you outline the study?
We wanted to look at the possibility of reducing allergies in infants, via the mother. We gave nutritional counselling to the mothers in the study from the first trimester of pregnancy alongside a probiotic combination. The study continued from this point, through the entire pregnancy, birth and until the mother stopped breastfeeding. We were interested in the outcomes for the child. The children had less sensitization to allergens, as had become apparent in earlier studies. But we were quite surprised at the metabolic outcomes for the mother. We saw greater glucose tolerance during pregnancy and a reduced risk of gestational diabetes. Furthermore, at 12 months after delivery there was less obesity in the women.
What were the two “wonder bugs” that you were using in your study?
We used two specific bacteria – lactobacillus and bifidobacterium lactis in combination.
What was the outcome for the children?
We followed up at 10 years and 15 years, and we still see that there is a lower risk of allergies in general in the group, including asthma, eczema and a trend towards lower risk of obesity.