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Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications
Date:7/17/2013

er inflammatory cytokine concentrations among women who experienced adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia and pre-term birth. While infection accounts for half of these adverse outcomes, researchers discovered that behavioral processes such as disturbed sleep also may play a role, given the relationship between sleep disturbance and immune function. Furthermore, higher concentrations of inflammatory cytokines also are found in depressed individuals.

The study is the first to evaluate all factors -- inflammatory cytokines, depression and insomnia -- and their possible combined effect on pregnant women. The study examined nearly 170 women, both depressed and not depressed, at 20 weeks of pregnancy and analyzed their sleep patterns and cytokine production levels over the course of 10 weeks (pregnancy-related physiological adaptations are in flux prior to 20 weeks).

The findings reveal:

  • Women with depression and poor sleep are at greatest risk for adverse birth-related outcomes. Cytokine levels may be one biological pathway through which this is accomplished, particularly with regard to preterm birth.
  • Any shift in immunity, such as poor sleep and/or depression, could set the stage for increased risk for adverse outcomes.
  • At 20 weeks, depressed pregnant women have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines compared to non-depressed women.
  • At 30 weeks of pregnancy, differences in cytokines among depressed and non-depressed women were negligible, likely because as pregnancy progresses, levels of cytokines normally increase.


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Contact: Cristina Mestre
mestreca@upmc.edu
412-586-9776
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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