Targeting Maternal Gut Microbiome to Improve Mental Health Outcomes-A Pilot Feasibility Trial


Perinatal Depression and anxiety (PDA) is prevalent in new and expectant mothers affecting millions of women worldwide. Those with a history of mood and anxiety disorders are at the greatest risk of experiencing PDA at a subsequent pregnancy. Current safety concerns with pharmacological treatments have led to a greater need for adjunctive treatment options for PDA. Changes in the composition of the microbiome have been associated with various diseases during pregnancy and these changes are thought to be at least partially at play in perinatal mood disorders. While the relation between PDA and the microbiome has not been explored, evidence suggests that nutritional interventions, with fiber, fish oils, and probiotics, may play a favorable role in neuropsychiatric outcomes during and after pregnancy. The primary objective of the present study is to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a combination of non-pharmacological interventions in currently stable and pregnant women with a history of anxiety and/or depression. This study will also aim to understand ease of recruitment, treatment compliance, and protocol adherence in this cohort.


This a single centered, partially randomized-placebo controlled-double blind feasibility trial. 100 pregnant women, with a history of depression and/or anxiety/PDA will be recruited and randomized into one of four arms which could include: receiving a daily dose of both investigational products and dietary counselling on increasing dietary fiber, receiving a daily dose of both investigational drugs only, receiving fish oil investigational product and placebo, and a control arm with no intervention. The study involves six study visits, all of which can be conducted virtually every 3 months from the time of enrollment. At all study visits, information on diet, mental health, physical activity, and sleep quality will be collected. Additionally, all participants will provide a stool sample at each visit.


It is anticipated that pregnant women with a history of depression and anxiety will be particularly interested in partaking in this trial, resulting in favourable recruitment rates. Given the positive findings of O3FA and probiotic supplements on mental health symptoms in non-pregnant adults, we expect a similar trend in PDA symptoms, with a low likelihood of adverse events. This study will build the foundation for larger powered studied to further contribute evidence for the efficacy of this potential treatment option.

Trial Registration

This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials/gov on October 6, 2023; NCT06074250. Trial Sponsor: The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, 1255 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2K 1E2, 416-498-1255.

DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.03.08.24303670


Title of abstract:
Targeting Maternal Gut Microbiome to Improve Mental Health Outcomes-A Pilot Feasibility Trial

Faith Gallant, Kieran Cooley, Sophie Grigoriadis, Neda Ebrahimi




Gallant, F, Cooley K, Grigoriadis S, Ebrahimi E. Targeting Maternal Gut Microbiome to Improve Mental Health Outcomes-A Pilot Feasibility Trial. medRxiv 2024.03.08.24303670; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.03.08.24303670