Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research

OH, United States

Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research

OH, United States
SEARCH FILTERS
Time filter
Source Type

News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A financially strapped pregnant woman's worries about the arrival and care of her little one could contribute to birth of a smaller, medically vulnerable infant, a new study suggests. Researchers at The Ohio State University found that pregnancy-specific distress, such as concerns that the baby's needs won't be met, appears to be a pathway between financial strain and higher likelihood of a low-birth-weight infant. The study appeared in the journal Archives of Women's Mental Health. "There is an opportunity here to look for interventions during pregnancy that could help mitigate the effects of financial strain on birth outcomes," said lead author Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's Stress and Health in Pregnancy Research Program. While larger efforts to improve access to housing, jobs and support for low-income women is critical, there are potential low-cost, stress-reduction techniques that could help reduce risk, Mitchell said. Meditation and breathing exercises could prove useful, for instance, she said. "It's important for all women who experience pregnancy-related stress to seek out help coping with that stress," Mitchell said. "And ob-gyns and other medical providers should also talk about stress during their visits with expecting moms." The study included 138 pregnant women who filled out questionnaires to assess financial strain, depressive symptoms, pregnancy-specific distress, perceived stress and general anxiety. Moms in the racially diverse study group were between five and 31 weeks pregnant and 29 years old on average at the time of the assessment. The study, which was primarily designed to evaluate flu vaccine effectiveness, ran from 2013 to 2015. After the participants' babies were born, researchers were able to review medical records to compare birth weight against moms' questionnaire responses during pregnancy. The researchers knew from previous studies that pregnant moms who are socioeconomically disadvantaged have a higher likelihood of having smaller babies and worse birth outcomes. What they wanted to learn was whether specific factors could be driving that connection - factors that could lead to positive interventions for women at risk of delivering low-birth-weight babies. Statistical models designed to identify those drivers landed on one statistically significant factor: pregnancy-specific distress. "This includes concerns about labor and delivery, about relationships changing, about working after the baby arrives, paying for medical care, and whether the baby will be unhealthy," said study senior author Lisa Christian, associate professor of psychiatry and a member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State. Financial strain was assessed based on a five-point scale derived from moms' responses to three questions: "How difficult is it for you to live on your total household income right now?" "In the next two months, how likely is it that you and your family will experience actual hardships, such as inadequate housing, food, or medical attention?" and "How likely is it that you and your family will have to reduce your standard of living to the bare necessities of life?" Low-birth-weight babies often suffer from serious health problems and spend their first weeks or months in intensive care. About 8 percent of babies born in the United States are underweight at birth. Low birth weight is clinically defined as below 2,500 grams, or 5 pounds and 8 ounces. "It's important to understand the factors that make it more likely for a woman with lower socioeconomic conditions to have a baby at higher risk of complications and death," Mitchell said. Limitations of the study include the fact that it was a secondary analysis of data collected during a different study, and that the overall number of low-birth-weight babies was small, at 11. The researchers suggest that replicating this study in a larger group would be beneficial. The Ohio State researchers are working on another study looking at blood biomarkers that might better explain what biological changes could be at play, including inflammation, Mitchell said. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Those who eat more fish, plant proteins less likely to suffer, study finds COLUMBUS, Ohio - Eating a Mediterranean diet could decrease the chances an overweight person will experience regular pain, new research suggests. A well-established connection between body weight and chronic pain might be explained by inflammation in the body, and the study points to anti-inflammatory foods including fish, nuts and beans as a key to preventing or reducing that pain, said lead researcher Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. "We found that a healthy diet explained the link between weight and pain and specifically that seafood and plant proteins such as peas and nuts and beans were key," said Emery, who is a member of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. "It appears to be telling us that it's not just the quantity of the food you eat that plays a role in pain for heavier individuals, but the quality of food as well." The researchers developed a model to help them determine whether components of an anti-inflammatory diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, played a role in the likelihood a person's weight would contribute to pain. And they found a clear pattern. Eating more fish and plant-based proteins such as nuts and beans was linked with less pain, regardless of body weight. The study also upheld previous research showing that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience pain. It included 98 men and women 20 to 78 years old and appears this month in the journal Pain. "Obesity and pain are significant public health problems. This was an attempt to take a very detailed snapshot of how they might be related," Emery said. "We were interested in the possibility of an inflammatory mechanism explaining the connection because we know there's a high degree of inflammation associated with obesity and with pain." The mediation model he and his team developed took into account weight, an analysis of self-reported dietary patterns (the Health Eating Index, a measure of diet quality based on U.S. dietary guidelines) and results of a two-question pain survey. Researchers spent three hours with each participant in his or her home. The researchers accounted for other factors that could influence their results, including age, depression, analgesic medication use and joint pain. And they tested the model using three different measures of weight - body mass index, waist circumference and body fat percentage. In all three cases, they found evidence that anti-inflammatory proteins may explain the link between increased weight and pain. "For people with obesity, it's kind of like a cloud hanging over them because they experience high levels of pain and inflammation," Emery said. The data came from a larger initial study that examined the home environment's role on psychological and social functioning of obese people and people at a healthy weight. Potential weaknesses of the study include the lack of blood samples that would allow the researchers to look at inflammatory markers and the brevity of the pain measurement. The pain evaluation provides an indicator of pain experienced during the previous month, but does not account for chronic pain of a longer duration. Emery said his next step is to examine body fat and pain using biomarkers associated with inflammation. "I'm interested in how our work can contribute to effective treatments for overweight and obese individuals," he said. Emery's collaborators, all from Ohio State, were KayLoni Olson, Andrew Bodine, Victoria Lee and Diane Habash. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and Ohio State's Food Innovation Center supported the study.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Eating a Mediterranean diet could decrease the chances an overweight person will experience regular pain, new research suggests. A well-established connection between body weight and chronic pain might be explained by inflammation in the body, and the study points to anti-inflammatory foods including fish, nuts and beans as a key to preventing or reducing that pain, said lead researcher Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. “We found that a healthy diet explained the link between weight and pain and specifically that seafood and plant proteins such as peas and nuts and beans were key,” said Emery, who is a member of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. “It appears to be telling us that it’s not just the quantity of the food you eat that plays a role in pain for heavier individuals, but the quality of food as well.” The researchers developed a model to help them determine whether components of an anti-inflammatory diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, played a role in the likelihood a person’s weight would contribute to pain. And they found a clear pattern. Eating more fish and plant-based proteins such as nuts and beans was linked with less pain, regardless of body weight. The study also upheld previous research showing that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience pain. It included 98 men and women 20 to 78 years old and appears this month in the journal Pain. “Obesity and pain are significant public health problems. This was an attempt to take a very detailed snapshot of how they might be related,” Emery said. “We were interested in the possibility of an inflammatory mechanism explaining the connection because we know there’s a high degree of inflammation associated with obesity and with pain.” The mediation model he and his team developed took into account weight, an analysis of self-reported dietary patterns (the Health Eating Index, a measure of diet quality based on U.S. dietary guidelines) and results of a two-question pain survey. Researchers spent three hours with each participant in his or her home. The researchers accounted for other factors that could influence their results, including age, depression, analgesic medication use and joint pain. And they tested the model using three different measures of weight – body mass index, waist circumference and body fat percentage. In all three cases, they found evidence that anti-inflammatory proteins may explain the link between increased weight and pain. “For people with obesity, it’s kind of like a cloud hanging over them because they experience high levels of pain and inflammation,” Emery said. The data came from a larger initial study that examined the home environment’s role on psychological and social functioning of obese people and people at a healthy weight. Potential weaknesses of the study include the lack of blood samples that would allow the researchers to look at inflammatory markers and the brevity of the pain measurement. The pain evaluation provides an indicator of pain experienced during the previous month, but does not account for chronic pain of a longer duration. Emery said his next step is to examine body fat and pain using biomarkers associated with inflammation. “I’m interested in how our work can contribute to effective treatments for overweight and obese individuals,” he said. Emery’s collaborators, all from Ohio State, were KayLoni Olson, Andrew Bodine, Victoria Lee and Diane Habash. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and Ohio State’s Food Innovation Center supported the study.


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Scientists are uncovering clues to what might be unfolding in the relationship between the brain and immune system in those who suffer from long-term repercussions of stress. New research details those connections, specifically that an abundance of white blood cells in the spleen could be sending messages to the brain that result in behavioral changes long after mice experience repeated stress. "We found that immune cells in the spleen can contribute to chronic anxiety following psychological stress," said Daniel McKim, a graduate student at The Ohio State University and the lead author of the study. "Our findings emphasize the possibility that the immune system represents a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of mental health conditions." The research was part of a series of related studies presented Nov. 13 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. McKim's co-authors and advisers, John Sheridan and Jonathan Godbout, are working toward explaining the complicated interplay between immunity and stress in animals that have experienced "repeated social defeat" in an effort to eventually improve the well-being of people who experience chronic psychological stress. Sheridan is associate director of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and a professor of biosciences. Godbout is an associate professor of neuroscience. In this study, the trio of scientists determined that the immune cell changes persisted for almost a month after the mice experienced the stress. "Stress appears to prompt the release of stem cells from the bone marrow to the spleen, where they develop into white blood cells, or monocytes, and expand over time," Godbout said. "Then the spleen becomes a reservoir of inflammatory cells." Sheridan said the spleen is now understood to be integral to the sensitization that happens after prolonged stress in mice, leading to anxiety and other cognitive problems down the road. "It's like a stress memory," Godbout said. In their previous work, Ohio State researchers have documented an increased prevalence of long-term anxiety and depression in mice exposed to chronic stress, a model that has been compared to post-traumatic stress disorder in people. "Maybe anxiety is a good thing for survival -- it's beneficial evolutionarily -- but the issue becomes what happens when that system is put into overdrive. That's when it gets problematic," Godbout said. Added Sheridan, "We're beginning to piece together more details about the bi-directional communication between the brain and the body and the body and the brain." The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Other related Ohio State research shared Nov. 13, some of which was conducted under the leadership of Ning Quan, an Ohio State professor of biosciences, found that:


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Scientists are uncovering clues to what might be unfolding in the relationship between the brain and immune system in those who suffer from long-term repercussions of stress. New research details those connections, specifically that an abundance of white blood cells in the spleen could be sending messages to the brain that result in behavioral changes long after mice experience repeated stress. "We found that immune cells in the spleen can contribute to chronic anxiety following psychological stress," said Daniel McKim, a graduate student at The Ohio State University and the lead author of the study. "Our findings emphasize the possibility that the immune system represents a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of mental health conditions." The research was part of a series of related studies presented Nov. 13 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. McKim's co-authors and advisers, John Sheridan and Jonathan Godbout, are working toward explaining the complicated interplay between immunity and stress in animals that have experienced "repeated social defeat" in an effort to eventually improve the wellbeing of people who experience chronic psychological stress. Sheridan is associate director of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and a professor of biosciences. Godbout is an associate professor of neuroscience. In this study, the trio of scientists determined that the immune cell changes persisted for almost a month after the mice experienced the stress. "Stress appears to prompt the release of stem cells from the bone marrow to the spleen, where they develop into white blood cells, or monocytes, and expand over time," Godbout said. "Then the spleen becomes a reservoir of inflammatory cells." Sheridan said the spleen is now understood to be integral to the sensitization that happens after prolonged stress in mice, leading to anxiety and other cognitive problems down the road. "It's like a stress memory," Godbout said. In their previous work, Ohio State researchers have documented an increased prevalence of long-term anxiety and depression in mice exposed to chronic stress, a model that has been compared to post-traumatic stress disorder in people. "Maybe anxiety is a good thing for survival—it's beneficial evolutionarily—but the issue becomes what happens when that system is put into overdrive. That's when it gets problematic," Godbout said. Added Sheridan, "We're beginning to piece together more details about the bi-directional communication between the brain and the body and the body and the brain." The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Other related Ohio State research shared Nov. 13, some of which was conducted under the leadership of Ning Quan, an Ohio State professor of biosciences, found that:


News Article | November 13, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Mouse research pieces together more details about the links between brain health, immune system SAN DIEGO - Scientists are uncovering clues to what might be unfolding in the relationship between the brain and immune system in those who suffer from long-term repercussions of stress. New research details those connections, specifically that an abundance of white blood cells in the spleen could be sending messages to the brain that result in behavioral changes long after mice experience repeated stress. "We found that immune cells in the spleen can contribute to chronic anxiety following psychological stress," said Daniel McKim, a graduate student at The Ohio State University and the lead author of the study. "Our findings emphasize the possibility that the immune system represents a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of mental health conditions." The research was part of a series of related studies presented Nov. 13 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. McKim's co-authors and advisers, John Sheridan and Jonathan Godbout, are working toward explaining the complicated interplay between immunity and stress in animals that have experienced "repeated social defeat" in an effort to eventually improve the well-being of people who experience chronic psychological stress. Sheridan is associate director of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and a professor of biosciences. Godbout is an associate professor of neuroscience. In this study, the trio of scientists determined that the immune cell changes persisted for almost a month after the mice experienced the stress. "Stress appears to prompt the release of stem cells from the bone marrow to the spleen, where they develop into white blood cells, or monocytes, and expand over time," Godbout said. "Then the spleen becomes a reservoir of inflammatory cells." Sheridan said the spleen is now understood to be integral to the sensitization that happens after prolonged stress in mice, leading to anxiety and other cognitive problems down the road. "It's like a stress memory," Godbout said. In their previous work, Ohio State researchers have documented an increased prevalence of long-term anxiety and depression in mice exposed to chronic stress, a model that has been compared to post-traumatic stress disorder in people. "Maybe anxiety is a good thing for survival -- it's beneficial evolutionarily -- but the issue becomes what happens when that system is put into overdrive. That's when it gets problematic," Godbout said. Added Sheridan, "We're beginning to piece together more details about the bi-directional communication between the brain and the body and the body and the brain." The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Other related Ohio State research shared Nov. 13, some of which was conducted under the leadership of Ning Quan, an Ohio State professor of biosciences, found that:


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Scientists are uncovering clues to what might be unfolding in the relationship between the brain and immune system in those who suffer from long-term repercussions of stress. New research details those connections, specifically that an abundance of white blood cells in the spleen could be sending messages to the brain that result in behavioral changes long after mice experience repeated stress. "We found that immune cells in the spleen can contribute to chronic anxiety following psychological stress," said Daniel McKim, a graduate student at The Ohio State University and the lead author of the study. "Our findings emphasize the possibility that the immune system represents a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of mental health conditions." The research was part of a series of related studies presented Nov. 13 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. McKim's co-authors and advisers, John Sheridan and Jonathan Godbout, are working toward explaining the complicated interplay between immunity and stress in animals that have experienced "repeated social defeat" in an effort to eventually improve the well-being of people who experience chronic psychological stress. Sheridan is associate director of Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research and a professor of biosciences. Godbout is an associate professor of neuroscience. In this study, the trio of scientists determined that the immune cell changes persisted for almost a month after the mice experienced the stress. "Stress appears to prompt the release of stem cells from the bone marrow to the spleen, where they develop into white blood cells, or monocytes, and expand over time," Godbout said. "Then the spleen becomes a reservoir of inflammatory cells." Sheridan said the spleen is now understood to be integral to the sensitization that happens after prolonged stress in mice, leading to anxiety and other cognitive problems down the road. "It's like a stress memory," Godbout said. In their previous work, Ohio State researchers have documented an increased prevalence of long-term anxiety and depression in mice exposed to chronic stress, a model that has been compared to post-traumatic stress disorder in people. "Maybe anxiety is a good thing for survival -- it's beneficial evolutionarily -- but the issue becomes what happens when that system is put into overdrive. That's when it gets problematic," Godbout said. Added Sheridan, "We're beginning to piece together more details about the bi-directional communication between the brain and the body and the body and the brain." The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


News Article | November 14, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

SAN DIEGO - Prenatal exposure to a mother's stress contributes to anxiety and cognitive problems that persist into adulthood, a phenomenon that could be explained by lasting - and potentially damaging - changes in the microbiome, according to new research in mice. When pregnant mice were exposed to stress in the study, it appeared to change the makeup of the bacteria in both their guts and placentas, as well as in the intestinal tracts of their female offspring, researchers at The Ohio State University found. And those microbial changes lasted into adulthood. On top of that, the mice with stressed mothers struggled in tests aimed at gauging anxiety and cognitive health compared with female offspring of mice that were not stressed during pregnancy. And markers of inflammation increased in the placenta, the fetal brain and the adult brain of the offspring while a supportive protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) decreased. "More and more, doctors and researchers are understanding that naturally occurring bacteria are not just a silent presence in our body, but that they contribute to our health," said Tamar Gur, the lead researcher and assistant professor of psychiatry & behavioral health, neuroscience and obstetrics & gynecology at Ohio State. "These mice were more anxious, they spent more time in dark, closed spaces and they had a harder time learning cognitive tasks even though they were never stressed after birth." Gur presented the study on Nov. 14 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Previous studies have found associations between maternal stress in both animals and people to later mental health and behavioral problems in their offspring. This study could begin to explain what's at play in that relationship. "We already understand that prenatal stress can be bad for offspring, but the mystery is how," said Gur, a psychiatrist who is a member of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. Gur said microbes from a mother's gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts are the first to colonize in a developing fetus (and in newborns). That makes the bacteria an interesting potential explanation of why and how stress before an animal or person is born could prompt mental illness that can last a lifetime. This study is pointing to alterations in the microbes that live in the placenta and outlines changes found in the placentas of fetal mice that had stressed mothers. Gur and her colleagues found significant microbial changes to the placentas of the female offspring of stressed mice. They also found alterations in inflammation and growth factors in the placenta, pointing to changes in how the microbes were influencing important dynamics before birth. And in the female offspring of the stressed mice, the researchers found a lower ability to learn and higher anxiety-like behavior compared to the offspring of non-stressed mother mice. Gur said the team found interesting changes in the male offspring as well, but the details of that part of the study are still in the works. Gur said she wants to know more about the links between the brain and the bacteria that live in the gut, and she and her colleagues have plans to expand their investigation to pregnant women and their babies. Perhaps one day the work will lead to knowledge about how probiotics could help mitigate the effects of stress and the downstream repercussions, but it's too soon now to say if they would have any impact, she said. The stressed mother mice underwent two hours per day for seven days of restraint meant to induce stress. For comparison, the researchers left another group of pregnant mice undisturbed during gestation. Gut bacteria were assessed using fecal samples from the mice. Gur stressed that the message here is not that mothers are to blame should their children suffer mental illness later in life. Rather, she said, this scientific development presents an opportunity to talk more about the importance of mental health in general and during pregnancy. "As a psychiatrist who treats pregnant women, if you're stressed, anxious or depressed, I think pregnancy is a prime time for intervention," Gur said. "And what's good for mom is good for the baby." The study was supported by the March of Dimes and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Other researchers who worked on the study were Michael T. Bailey, Lena Shay, Sydney Fisher, Adidti Vadodkar and Vanessa Varaljay.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Women have claimed for years that their bodies react differently whether they're pregnant with a male or female baby. Some studies suggest that a baby's sex could play a role in why some women report differences with morning sickness, cravings and other symptoms based on the sex of their baby. Now evidence, published in the February issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, shows the sex of a baby is associated with pregnant women's immune responses. Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center followed 80 pregnant women across the course of their pregnancy and examined whether women exhibited different levels of immune markers called cytokines based on fetal sex. Analyses were conducted on levels of cytokines in the blood and levels produced by a sample of immune cells that were exposed to bacteria in the lab. "While women didn't exhibit differences in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, we did find that the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses produced more pro-inflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacteria. This means that women carrying female fetuses exhibited a heightened inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged, compared to women carrying male fetuses," said Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and principal investigator of the study. Inflammation is a critical part of the immune response involved in wound healing and responses to viruses, bacteria and chronic illnesses. However, excessive inflammation is stressful to the body and can contribute to sickness-related symptoms, such as achiness and fatigue. While more research is needed, the heightened inflammation observed among women carrying female fetuses could play a role in why women tend to experience exacerbated symptoms of some medical conditions, including asthma, when carrying a female versus a male fetus. "This research helps women and their obstetricians recognize that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman's body responds to everyday immune challenges and can lead to further research into how differences in immune function may affect how a women responds to different viruses, infections or chronic health conditions (such as asthma), including whether these responses affect the health of the fetus," Mitchell said. While maternal inflammation can affect outcomes related to the fetus, like timing of birth, more research is necessary to understand how fetal sex is associated with maternal inflammation. It's possible the sex hormones or other hormones in the placenta affect maternal inflammation levels, Mitchell said. "It's important to think about supporting healthy immune function, which doesn't necessarily mean boosting it - it's problematic to have too little or too great of an immune response. That being said, research has shown that exercise supports healthy immune functioning, as does eating some foods, like leafy greens, and relaxing with activities like meditation. Of course, it's always important to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine or diet," she said.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Women have claimed for years that their bodies react differently whether they're pregnant with a male or female baby. Some studies suggest that a baby's sex could play a role in why some women report differences with morning sickness, cravings and other symptoms based on the sex of their baby. Now evidence, published in the February issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, shows the sex of a baby is associated with pregnant women's immune responses. Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center followed 80 pregnant women across the course of their pregnancy and examined whether women exhibited different levels of immune markers called cytokines based on fetal sex. Analyses were conducted on levels of cytokines in the blood and levels produced by a sample of immune cells that were exposed to bacteria in the lab. "While women didn't exhibit differences in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, we did find that the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses produced more pro-inflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacteria. This means that women carrying female fetuses exhibited a heightened inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged, compared to women carrying male fetuses," said Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and principal investigator of the study. Inflammation is a critical part of the immune response involved in wound healing and responses to viruses, bacteria and chronic illnesses. However, excessive inflammation is stressful to the body and can contribute to sickness-related symptoms, such as achiness and fatigue. While more research is needed, the heightened inflammation observed among women carrying female fetuses could play a role in why women tend to experience exacerbated symptoms of some medical conditions, including asthma, when carrying a female versus a male fetus. "This research helps women and their obstetricians recognize that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman's body responds to everyday immune challenges and can lead to further research into how differences in immune function may affect how a women responds to different viruses, infections or chronic health conditions (such as asthma), including whether these responses affect the health of the fetus," Mitchell said. While maternal inflammation can affect outcomes related to the fetus, like timing of birth, more research is necessary to understand how fetal sex is associated with maternal inflammation. It's possible the sex hormones or other hormones in the placenta affect maternal inflammation levels, Mitchell said. "It's important to think about supporting healthy immune function, which doesn't necessarily mean boosting it - it's problematic to have too little or too great of an immune response. That being said, research has shown that exercise supports healthy immune functioning, as does eating some foods, like leafy greens, and relaxing with activities like meditation. Of course, it's always important to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine or diet," she said. Other Ohio State researchers involved in the study were Marilly Palettas and Lisa M. Christian.

Loading Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research collaborators
Loading Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research collaborators