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Depression Linked to Immune Response in Pregnancy

Study suggests pregnant women with depression may experience greater inflammatory responses

FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women with greater symptoms of depression may experience increased inflammatory responses to influenza vaccination and potentially infectious illness during pregnancy, according to research published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Lisa M. Christian, Ph.D., of the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues analyzed data from 22 pregnant women (mean age, 25 years) at an average of 17 weeks' gestation. Women received an influenza vaccination and underwent assessment of depression with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, then returned a week later. Researchers assessed their serum levels of macrophage migration inhibitory factor at both visits.

The investigators found that women in the top tertile of depressive symptoms exhibited significantly higher levels of macrophage migration inhibitory factor on the second visit compared to women in the bottom tertile, suggesting dysregulation of normal inflammatory processes.

"These data have important implications for understanding risk of negative perinatal outcomes," the authors write. "Women who experience greater depressive symptoms during pregnancy may experience greater inflammatory responses upon exposure to other immune challenges including infectious agents, putting them at greater risk for negative sequelae."

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