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Thomas Willmott Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

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Elizabeth C Cottrell Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, Division of Developmental Biology & Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

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During pregnancy, all major physiological systems undergo remarkable changes, driven largely by alterations in the maternal hormonal milieu. In healthy pregnancies, maternal cardiovascular and metabolic adaptation to pregnancy occurs to support fetal growth and maternal well-being. Impaired maternal adaptation to pregnancy is associated with a range of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. There is growing recognition of the importance of different maternal microbiota, including in the gut, vagina and oral cavity, in supporting normal maternal adaptations to pregnancy as well as evidence for microbial disturbances associating with pregnancy pathologies. Here, we aim to summarise emerging evidence demonstrating that differences in maternal microbiota associate with pregnancy outcomes and discuss potential therapeutic approaches under development that might restore an ‘optimal’ microbiome. In particular, we highlight recent work by ourselves and others exploring the role of the oral microbiome in pregnancy, given established links between poor oral health (e.g. periodontitis) and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Our research has focussed on specific nitrate-reducing oral bacteria which play a role in the generation of nitric oxide (NO) and other bioactive nitrogen oxides associated with cardiovascular health and maternal cardiovascular adaption to pregnancy. Ongoing research aims to define whether altered microbial profiles have clinical utility in the prediction of pregnancy pathologies, and whether interventions designed to optimise specific maternal microbiota could help prevent future complications.

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