A study by the University of Otago has found a Fonterra probiotic could reduce cases of gestational diabetes in pregnant women by 68%.
It is identified as Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, referred to as SureStart LactoB 001.
“Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition caused by pregnant women’s bodies being unable to produce enough insulin for both the mother and baby,” said Fonterra program manager nutrition and health, Dr James Dekker.
“It leads to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, and Maori, Pacific Island and Asian women have some of the highest rates.”
“We know that not all probiotics are created equal, and through targeted research we’re finding out how our Fonterra probiotic strains can be used to help people have a better quality of life.”
He said 423 women were in the first trial and the company would like to see it tested on more pregnant women to see if there are the same positive results.
If so, the promise of a simple, cheap and safe intervention to reduce the prevalence of gestational diabetes could be on the horizon, although bringing such a product into the market usually takes several years.
Previous studies have shown that the probiotic have an effect on the instances of childhood eczema.
The University of Otago and researchers in Auckland are also looking at the impacts of the probiotic on people with a pre-disposition to developing diabetes and how it may reduce the chances of them developing full-blown diabetes.