Institution: Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80903
Abstract: Depression during pregnancy is a significant public health issue, with 18% of pregnant women suffering from depressive symptoms. Prepartum depression is correlated with health complications in the mother, and with physical and behavioral abnormalities in the child. Psychotherapy provides relief to some, but access and compliance issues limit its efficacy, and the safety of antidepressant use during pregnancy has not been conclusively demonstrated. An alternative approach is to address the health of the gut brain axis, a bidirectional signaling pathway between gut microbiota and the central nervous system. Gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in gut microbe composition, is linked to psychiatric disorders, especially anxiety and depression. The consumption of probiotics, microbes beneficial to health, could potentially provide relief to pregnant women with depression and subsequently protect the child from deleterious effects of prepartum depression. Bifidobaterium infantis 35634 (B. infantis) has been studied in the context of irritable bowel syndrome and reduces systemic inflammatory biomarkers. The present study explored the role of the gut microbiome in prenatal and early postnatal development by exploring the effects of B. infantis supplementation on the maternal restraint model of depression in rats. Maternal restraint for 45 min three times per day, for six to seven days, significantly increased dams’ depressive behavior. Maternal restraint additionally increased offspring weights and depressive behavior. B. infantis supplementation tended to rescue these deficits, although effects did not reach significance. Additional research with a larger sample size is warranted to elucidate the efficacy of this intervention in improving the physical and psychological health of mother and infant.
Keywords: Pre-Partum Depression; Gut Brain Axis; Probiotics