The Pregnancy Microbiome
In recent years, microbiome research has revealed multiple essential roles of the microorganisms
residing within the human body in host metabolism, immunity, and overall
health. Numerous physiological and pathological states, including obesity and the metabolic
syndrome, have been correlated with microbial changes, termed dysbiosis. Our microbiomes
change in response to our environment, diet, weight, hormones, and other
factors. It is, therefore, not surprising that there are also significant changes in the microbiome
during pregnancy when dramatic weight gain and metabolic and immunological
In this review, we summarize the known changes in microbial composition throughout pregnancy at a variety of body sites, including the gut, vagina, oral cavity, and placenta, and we describe several studies that have linked pregnancy complications with microbial changes. Unlike the case of certain disease states, such as obesity, where dysbiosis is considered to have negative effects, we believe that the microbial alterations observed during pregnancy are vital for a healthy pregnancy.
While more research in this field is required to reveal specific mechanisms and pathways regulating these alterations, the microbial changes during pregnancy are likely coordinated with the immune, endocrine, and metabolic states.