Maternal prebiotic supplementation during pregnancy and lactation modifies the microbiome and short chain fatty acid profile of both mother and infant

Jacquelyn M. Jones, Stacey N. Reinke, Mahsa Mousavi-Derazmahalleh, Johan Garssen, Maria C. Jenmalm, Ravisha Srinivasjois, Desiree Silva, Jeffrey Keelan, Susan L. Prescott, Debra J. Palmer, Claus T. Christophersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & aims: Improving maternal gut health in pregnancy and lactation is a potential strategy to improve immune and metabolic health in offspring and curtail the rising rates of inflammatory diseases linked to alterations in gut microbiota. Here, we investigate the effects of a maternal prebiotic supplement (galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides), ingested daily from <21 weeks' gestation to six months’ post-partum, in a double-blinded, randomised placebo-controlled trial. Methods: Stool samples were collected at multiple timepoints from 74 mother–infant pairs as part of a larger, double-blinded, randomised controlled allergy intervention trial. The participants were randomised to one of two groups; with one group receiving 14.2 g per day of prebiotic powder (galacto-oligosaccharides GOS and fructo-oligosaccharides FOS in ratio 9:1), and the other receiving a placebo powder consisting of 8.7 g per day of maltodextrin. The faecal microbiota of both mother and infants were assessed based on the analysis of bacterial 16S rRNA gene (V4 region) sequences, and short chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations in stool. Results: Significant differences in the maternal microbiota profiles between baseline and either 28-weeks’ or 36-weeks’ gestation were found in the prebiotic supplemented women. Infant microbial beta-diversity also significantly differed between prebiotic and placebo groups at 12-months of age. Supplementation was associated with increased abundance of commensal Bifidobacteria in the maternal microbiota, and a reduction in the abundance of Negativicutes in both maternal and infant microbiota. There were also changes in SCFA concentrations with maternal prebiotics supplementation, including significant differences in acetic acid concentration between intervention and control groups from 20 to 28-weeks’ gestation. Conclusion: Maternal prebiotic supplementation of 14.2 g per day GOS/FOS was found to favourably modify both the maternal and the developing infant gut microbiome. These results build on our understanding of the importance of maternal diet during pregnancy, and indicate that it is possible to intervene and modify the development of the infant microbiome by dietary modulation of the maternal gut microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-980
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Early online date6 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


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