A recent study has revealed the beneficial effects of two probiotic strains, Limosilactobacillus reuteri PBS072 and Bifidobacterium breve BB077, on mood in new mothers. The study, conducted in Italy, found that these two specific probiotic strains can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve overall mood, self-confidence, and breastfeeding in women during the first trimester post-partum.
The study, recently published in the international journal Nutrients, described a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trial in a cohort of 200 healthy new mothers. Participants were given either the two probiotic strains plus multivitamins or a control (multivitamin complex only) for 90 days with an intermediate check after 45 days.
Researchers found that throughout the trial, the probiotic treatment significantly ameliorated the mothers’ mood compared to the control treatment.
Giving birth is a magic moment that change the balance of an ecosystem, especially for women which may be subjected to physical and emotional changes. This condition known as “baby blues”, determined by the rapid adaptation happening after childbirth, is characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness and anxiety, which usually resolve within the first two weeks. Sometimes, these feelings could persist for a longer period, leading to post-partum depression which is a long-lasting depressive disorder.
To evaluate symptoms associated to new mothers mood, researchers used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale Questionnaire after 45 and 90 days of active or control treatment. After 45 days, the women who took the active treatment reported a lower average score, associated to a greater mood, with respect to placebo. This difference was higher at 90 days and it was statistically significant (p < 0.001).
Additionally, scientists provided a questionnaire called Breastfeeding Self-Efficacy Scale Short-Form to measure the quality of breastfeeding, filled by the participants 45 and 90 days after they started the treatment. The probiotic group showed better results than the control at day 45. After 90 days, the probiotic group still showed better results, with a greater average score compared to the control group (p < 0.001).
When researchers looked at the behavior of the newborns, it was interesting to note that mothers of the probiotic group reported a fewer crying events (81% compared to 42% of the control at day 45). The difference was even more noticeable after 90 days: 78% with respect to 43% in the control group.
“This study demonstrates that the administration of a probiotic supplement containing L. reuteri PBS072 and B. breve BB077 could improve new-mothers mood in the first trimester after delivery” said the researchers. These findings suggest that probiotics may be a useful tool for managing stress and anxiety, also in this peculiar period of women’s life.
The researchers also noted that the probiotic supplement was well-tolerated and safe to use since it determined no adverse effects.
The study highlights the potential of strain-specific probiotics to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety in new mothers, acting on the gut-brain axis.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that probiotics can have a positive effect on the field of the gut-brain axis and related conditions.