Recent evidence indicates that maternal dietary intake, including dietary supplements, during pregnancy and lactation may alter the infant gut or breastmilk microbiota, with implications for health outcomes in both the mother and infant. To review the effects of maternal nutritional supplementation during pregnancy and lactation on the infant gut or breastmilk microbiota a systematic literature search was conducted. A total of 967 studies published until February 2020 were found, 31 were eligible and 29 randomized control trials were included in the qualitative synthesis. There were 23 studies that investigated the effects of probiotic supplementation, with the remaining studies investigating vitamin D, prebiotics or lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS). The effects of maternal nutritional supplementation on the infant gut microbiota or breastmilk microbiota were examined in 21 and 12 studies, respectively. Maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and lactation generally resulted in the probiotic colonization of the infant gut microbiota, and although most studies also reported alterations in the infant gut bacterial loads, there was limited evidence of effects on bacterial diversity. The data available show that maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy or lactation results in probiotic colonization of the breastmilk microbiota. There were no observed effects between probiotic supplementation and breastmilk bacterial counts of healthy women, however, administration of Lactobacillus
probiotic to nursing women affected by mastitis was associated with significant reductions in breastmilk Staphylococcal
loads. Maternal LNS supplementation during pregnancy and lactation increased bacterial diversity in the infant gut, whilst vitamin D and prebiotic supplementation did not alter either infant gut bacterial diversity or counts. Heterogeneity in study design precludes any firm conclusions on the effects of maternal nutritional supplementation during pregnancy and lactation on the infant gut or breastmilk microbiota, warranting further research.
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