New study shows probiotics may reduce postnatal depression 


New research has found evidence that one of Fonterra’s probiotics can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression. 

A combined study by the Universities of Auckland and Otago looked at how Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (DR20) taken during and post pregnancy affected symptoms of maternal depression and anxiety after birth.

Mothers in the study who took the probiotic reported significantly lower levels of depression and anxiety than those in the placebo group.

Study author Dr Rebecca Slykerman says the results of the study are significant as taking a probiotic to assist in postnatal depression is a potentially simple way to help mothers with their mental health.

“Many women are unable to access psychological therapy or are reluctant to take antidepressant medication in pregnancy or while breastfeeding,” says Dr Slykerman.

“Furthermore, it takes several weeks for the therapeutic effect of antidepressants to appear and there is a 15-30 per cent discontinuation rate. Safe and effective therapies to prevent and treat postnatal depression are needed.”

Fonterra’s Programme Manager for Nutrition and Health Dr James Dekker says the results are encouraging.

It is pleasing to see more evidence of the health benefits of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (DR20), one of Fonterra’s two probiotics. As we know not all probiotics are created equal and there needs to be sound evidence for the benefits for each probiotic strain.

Dr James Dekker, Fonterra’s Programme Manager for Nutrition and Health

Other recent studies have found that when taken by pregnant women, DR20 may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and the instances of childhood eczema.

DR20, along with Fonterra’s other probiotic, Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 (DR10), which helps with gut health, were patented and commercialised after the screening of more than 2,000 strains in the 1990s.

DR20 can be found in the Go Healthy “Go Derma Protect” product sold in pharmacies, while DR10 can be found in the Symbio yoghurt range.

The full publication from the study is available online.