Constipation is a common problem faced globally
by pregnant women, especially in their final trimester. No significant remedy
is available to treat the situation except for the commonly available
laxatives. But these laxatives also have side effects. Probiotics are live micro-organisms that help and support the digestion
of foods and prevent constipation. However, their effect on pregnant
women has not been much studied.
Inge de Milliano and
colleagues at Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, The
Netherlands, conducted a pilot study to evaluate the role of multispecies
probiotic mixture in treating constipation in pregnant women. The study was
published in the Nutrition Journal 2012.
Twenty pregnant women with
functional constipation aged 18 years and above and who were between 12 and 34
weeks into their pregnancy were enrolled for the study. They were given a daily
dose of Ecologic(R)Relief (a mixture of Bifidobacterium
bifidum W23, Bifidobacterium lactis
W52, Bifidobacterium longum W108, Lactobacillus casei W79, Lactobacillus plantarum W62 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus W71.
Ecologic®Relief also contained very small amounts of rice starch,
maltodextrins, prebiotics - inulin and fructo- oligosaccharides (FOS) and salts
- potassium chloride, magnesium sulphate, and manganese sulphate.
The study revealed an increase in defecation
frequency and decrease in the feeling of incomplete evacuation, anorectal
obstruction and straining while defecating. There were no adverse effects noted
This study is relevant
and important not only because of utter discomfort due to symptoms of
constipation in pregnancy but also because the straining can impair the
functioning of pelvic region. Further, disturbed defecation can also cause
prolapse of the uterus. Considering that probiotics are non-pharmacological and
are widely used everywhere, 'probiotics could be of additional value in the
treatment of constipation in clinical practice in pregnant women' say the authors.
The researchers concluded that probiotics are
effective in significantly treating pregnancy induced constipation, however
they said that a randomized placebo trial is required to substantiate the role
Is a multispecies probiotic mixture effective in
constipation during pregnancy? 'A pilot study'; Inge de Milliano et al;
Nutrition Journal 2012