Probiotics may reduce the risk of pre-term birth: Study

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© janzwolinski / Getty Images
© janzwolinski / Getty Images

Related tags: Probiotic

A combination of probiotics may significantly reduce the rate of recurrent spontaneous preterm delivery (sPTD), says a new study from Japan.

Fifty-one women with a history of sPTD received oral supplements of Clostridium butyricum, Enterococcus faecium​, and Bacillus subtilis​ was given before 14 weeks of gestation until 36 weeks and their rate of recurrent sPTD compared with 255 women not taking the probiotic.

According to data published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research​, the rate in the probiotics group was over 20% lower, suggesting that this probiotic combination may reduce the rate of recurrent sPTD.

Researchers from University of Toyama report that while other studies have examined the potential effects on sPTD none had included C. butyricum​.

“A randomized-controlled trial or large-scale interventional study is needed to examine the effects of probiotics on recurrent sPTD,” ​they wrote. “Further studies are also warranted to clarify the role and mechanisms of action of probiotics including ​C. butyricum in pregnant women at risk of sPTD.”

Study details

Sixty-eight pregnant women with a history of sPTD were recruited to participate in the study, of which 51 completed the trial. The women were given daily supplements providing 60 mg per day of C. butyricum​, 12 mg per day of E. faecium, ​and 60 mg per day of B. subtilis​ from before 14 weeks of gestation. The data was then compared with the rate of sPTD in 255 pregnant women with a history of sPTD not taking probiotics.

The data revealed that the rate of sPTD in the probiotic group was 9.8%, compared to over 30% in the control group. In contrast, the overall rate of recurrent sPTD in Japan is 22%.


It should be stressed that the study is not without its limitations. For starters, the researchers only listed probiotic doses as milligrams and not as the more accurate and appropriate colony forming units (CFUs). The researchers also only list the species used and not the strains, which, given how the effects of probiotics are strain-specific, is an important omission.

Nonetheless, the results provide an intriguing opportunity to further explore the potential of microbiome modulation to reduce the rate of pre-term births.

Source: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/jog.15166
“Probiotics including​ Clostridium butyricum, Enterococcus faecium, and​ Bacillus subtilis may prevent recurrent spontaneous preterm delivery”
Authors: E.N. Arai et al.

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