A study from Bar-Ilan University, led by Omry Koren and Yoram Louzon and published in Cell Reports, has discovered that bacteria that make up our microbiome are able to perceive pregnancy and understand the need to move on and help the baby break down sugar in breast milk. Previous research had found that microbiome was responsible for weight gain and inflammatory responses in pregnancy, but what was causing these changes were unknown. In this study, it was found that progesterone regulates microbial composition in pregnancy in a way that helps babies to develop.
To conduct their research, the authors analyzed the changes that took place in bacteria as a pregnancy progressed. They found that there was a major change in the composition of bacteria in the last stage of pregnancy, with an increase in Bifidobacterium. These bacteria are considered crucial for babies to develop.
In their tests, researchers found that there was an increase in the level of progesterone that came with the inflammatory response. When administering progesterone, it was noted that the amount of Bifidobacterium was increasingly rapidly. It could therefore be concluded that Bifidobacterium detects and can respond to progesterone.
“Our results,” concludes Koren, “delineate a model in which progesterone promotes the growth of Bifidobacterium during the last stage of pregnancy. The findings provide new insights to understand the relationship not only between hormones and intestinal bacteria during pregnancy, but also in other conditions in which hormones participate, such as progesterone as a component of fertility treatments or therapy in menopausal women.”
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