Probiotic may reduce risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy

6 April 2017

Pregnant mother outdoors with a background of trees

Research led by the University of Otago, Wellington has found that a ‘home-grown’ naturally occurring probiotic reduces the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) and lowers fasting blood sugar.

Associate Professor Rinki Murphy, a member of Healthier Lives Science Leadership Team, co-authored the study.

Professor Julian Crane who leads the study says “We found that the protective effects were stronger among older women and were stronger among women who had previously had gestational diabetes.”

This same probiotic also has been shown to have effects on the immune system, and in the reduction of eczema.

This discovery may have a valuable impact in reducing diabetes risk in further populations. To investigate, Healthier Lives has joined with the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Ministry of Health to fund the exploration of whether this probiotic can prevent the progression of prediabetes amongst at-risk adults.

Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs (Healthier Lives Science Leadership Team member), who leads this new project says “New research has demonstrated that microbes in our gut affect our health in many ways. By taking probiotic supplements and prebiotics, we can modify our gut microbes, and this study will test whether these substances can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of those with pre-diabetes.”

More about the gestational diabetes research:

Related PROFAST study

Associate Professor Rinki Murphy, Healthier Lives Science Leadership Team, is also involved in a related study exploring whether higher-concentration doses of probiotics affected not just diabetes levels in patients, but also their body fat distribution.

Read the NZ Herald article: Study focuses on preventing diabetes and healthy weight (NZ Herald website)

Long-term conditions funding

More about Long-Term Conditions funded projects to investigate diabetes: Multi-million dollar funding collaboration to improve long-term health conditions

View our 2019-24 Research Strategy

He Pikinga Waiora Research Findings Brief

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