Research: Fonterra probiotic found to reduce postnatal depression

27 Oct 2017

New research in a combined study by the Universities of Auckland and Otago has found that one of Fonterra’s probiotics may reduce postnatal depression.

Research: Fonterra probiotic found to reduce postnatal depression

New research has found that one of Fonterra’s probiotics may reduce 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 depression and anxiety scores than those in the placebo group.

Study author Dr Rebecca Slykerman says the results of the study are significant given that 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,” said 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 it’s encouraging to see more potential benefits from one of its probiotics.

“It is pleasing to see more evidence of the health benefits of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (which has been trademarked as DR20 and SureStart LactoB 001), one of our two probiotics,” said Dekker. “We know not all probiotics are created equal and there needs to be sound evidence for the benefits for each probiotic strain”.

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

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

DR20 is not commercially available through Fonterra at the moment, but it can be found in the Go Healthy “Go derma protect” product sold in pharmacies, while DR10 can be found in the Symbio yoghurt range.