The vaginal microbiome plays an essential role not only in health and disease, but also potentially in successful fertilization and healthy pregnancies. In order to emphasize the unique aspects of the female microbiome, in 2015 and 2016 the scientific conference Women and their Microbes was held. The findings of these symposia have now been published in a scientific article. The review gives a nice overview of the positive role of microbes in women’s health, covering vaginal health, conception, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Highlights of the review:
The potential role of microbes in conception is greater than we thought. For example, vaginal lactobacilli might protect sperm form oxidative damage after intercourse, or in vitro fertilizations outcomes.
Microbial communities have been isolated from formerly forbidden sterile niches such as the placenta, breast, uterus, and Fallopian tubes.
The placental microbiome is strikingly similar to the oral microbiome among pregnant women.
Mother’s microbiomes change during pregnancy (gut, vagina, oral, breast) it is thought for the express of preparing transmission of microbes to the offspring and enhance microbial and immune tolerance.
Maternal transmission of microbes is a key determinant in infant health, and thus the next generation. Logically, this event has been proven (down to a strain level!) to occur only in vaginally delivered infants compared to C-section infants.
Potential probiotic targets for mother during pregnancy are: reduction of preterm birth, reduction/control of gestational diabetes mellitus, reduction of central adiposity, prevention of group B Streptococcus colonization, reduction of postpartum depression, alleviation of gastrointestinal-related complaints and antibiotic-associated side effects, heavy metal and pesticide detoxification, and reduction in vaginal and urinary tract infections.
Potential probiotic targets for neonate: reduction in colic, elimination of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), atopy, allergy support, and a reduction in antibiotic resistance, development of a healthy immune system and proper maternal microbial priming