Updated 2 months ago

A boy or a girl? Baby's sex may influence mother's immunity

A team of researchers from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center set out to examine whether or not there is a connection between the sex of the baby and the mother's immunity.

Researchers followed 80 pregnant women through their entire pregnancy. Of these future mothers, 46 were pregnant with males and 34 with females.

The study examined whether the women showed different levels of immune markers known as cytokines based on the sex of their baby and analyzed the levels of cytokines in the blood and levels produced in sample immune cells that were exposed to bacteria in a laboratory.

"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," Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center and lead investigator on the study, said in a press release.

Too many of those cytokines or too much inflammation can really be unhelpful for our bodies functioning. It can create or contribute to symptoms like fatigue or achiness.

"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 woman responds to different viruses, infections, or chronic health conditions, including whether these responses affect the health of the fetus." Said Mitchell

It is important to think about supporting healthy immune function, which does not necessarily mean boosting it - it is 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 is always important to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine or diet," Mitchell concluded

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