New studies have potentially revealed the gut microbiome may influence biological changes associated with a healthy pregnancy. Shifts in the human gut microbiome during pregnancy have been associated with fat and inflammation increases and research has shown an obvious shift in communities of the microbiome during pregnancy.
Transplanting gut bacteria from late-trimester pregnant women to germ-free mice produced comparable effects, suggesting microbes may play a role in metabolic fluctuations throughout gestation.
Fat gain and decreasing insulin sensitivity leads to increased blood sugar, which is believed to support growth and breast milk production. These changes are similar to metabolic syndrome, which is linked with increased cardiovascular disease risk. Prior research in mice indicates symptoms of metabolic syndrome might be influenced by manipulating the microbiome, which suggests similar mechanisms may trigger metabolic changes throughout pregnancy.
The vaginal microbiome also plays an important role in pregnancy for both maternal and neonatal health. The maternal vagina shifts to bacterial communities primarily dominated by one or two species of Lactobacillus. These bacteria may prevent pathogen growth by secreting antibacterials, as well as producing lactic acid, which aids in reducing pH and ultimately infection. Vaginal microbiome dysbiosis can be linked to pregnancy complications, especially increased risks of preterm birth. In addition, the maternal vaginal microbiome may also be an essential source of bacteria for the newborn gut microbiome.