Immune system function, stress, exercise and nutrition profile can affect pregnancy outcome: Lessons from a Mediterranean cohort

Centre for Cell and Chromosome Biology, Division of Biosciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
Experimental and therapeutic medicine (Impact Factor: 1.27). 02/2013; 5(2):411-418. DOI: 10.3892/etm.2012.849
Source: PubMed


Pregnancy is associated with major physiological and future psychosocial changes, and maternal adaptation to these changes is crucial for normal foetal development. Psychological stress in pregnancy predicts an earlier birth and lower birth weight. Pregnancy-specific stress contributes directly to preterm delivery. The importance of nutrition and exercise during pregnancy with regard to pregnancy outcome has long been acknowledged. This importance has only been further emphasized by the recent changes in food quality and availability, lifestyle changes and a new understanding of foetal programming's effects on adult outcomes. We hypothesised that for a successful pregnancy certain events at a nutritional, immune, psycho-emotional and genetic level should be tightly linked. Therefore, in this study we followed an 'integrative' approach to investigate how maternal stress, nutrition, pregnancy planning and exercise influence pregnancy outcome. A key finding of our study is that there was a significant reduction in the intake of alcohol, caffeine-containing and sugary drinks during pregnancy. However, passive smoking in the household remained unchanged. In terms of immune profile, a significant inverse correlation was noted between difficulty to 'fight' an infection and number of colds (r=-0.289, P=0.003) as well as the number of infections (r=-0.446, P<0.0001) during pregnancy. The vast majority of the pregnant women acquired a more sedentary lifestyle in the third trimester. In planned, but not in unplanned, pregnancies stress predicted infant weight, independent of age and body mass index (BMI). Notably, in mothers with negative attitudes towards the pregnancy, those with an unplanned pregnancy gave birth to infants with significantly higher weights than those with planned pregnancies. Collectively these data suggest that there is a higher order of complexity, possibly involving gene-environment interactions that work together to ensure a positive outcome for the mother as well as the foetus.

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Available from: Emmanouil Karteris, Jun 08, 2014
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    • "All participants gave informed consent to participate in the study and ethical approval was granted by the local ethics committee of the hospital. Questionnaires regarding maternal stress/maternal attitudes as well as anthropometric data were collected as previously described [12] [13]. Briefly, maternal stress/maternal attitudes towards their pregnancy were assessed in the 3rd trimester, using a questionnaire approach. "
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    ABSTRACT: Pregnancy-specific stress predicts birth outcomes. We hypothesized that there is a maternal stress-GR interaction that can influence fetal birth weight. This study examined the relationship between mothers' stress and attitude towards their pregnancies, placental glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) and growth arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5) expression, and the status of GR polymorphism, with their infants' birth weights. GAS5 and GR α were the predominant transcripts in both term and preterm placentas, with GAS5 being primarily localized in the syncytiotrophoblasts. In an attempt to mimic moderate and high stress environment in vitro, BeWo and JEG-3 cytotrophoblast cell lines were treated with 10 nM-1000 nM cortisol. Only expression of GAS5 was significantly upregulated by cortisol in all treatments compared with basal levels, but none of the GRs changed expression significantly. In an attempt to assess a stress versus gene interaction, we studied four GR polymorphisms. In the homozygous group for Tth111I polymorphism, mothers with negative attitudes towards the pregnancy gave birth to infants with significantly lower birth weights compared to women with positive/neutral attitudes. None of the GR splice variants were associated with maternal stress. However, placental GAS5 levels were inversely correlated with maternal stress. This study points towards a potential gene-environment interaction that could be of predictive value for fetal weight.
    Obstetrics and Gynecology International 05/2014; 2014:239278. DOI:10.1155/2014/239278
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    Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 07/2014; 35(3). DOI:10.3109/0167482X.2014.943179 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many Muslim women worldwide are pregnant during Ramadan and adhere to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy. In the present study, we determined whether maternal adherence to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy has an impact on the birth weight of the newborn, and whether the effects differed according to trimester in which Ramadan fasting took place. A prospective cohort study was conducted in 130 pregnant Muslim women who attended antenatal care in Amsterdam and Zaanstad, The Netherlands. Data on adherence to Ramadan fasting during pregnancy and demographics were self-reported by pregnant women, and the outcome of the newborn was retrieved from medical records after delivery. The results showed that half of all the women adhered to Ramadan fasting. With strict adherence to Ramadan fasting in pregnancy, the birth weight of newborns tended to be lower than that of newborns of non-fasting mothers, although this was not statistically significant ( - 198 g, 95 % CI - 447, 51, P= 0·12). Children of mothers who fasted in the first trimester of pregnancy were lighter at birth than those whose mothers had not fasted ( - 272 g, 95 % CI - 547, 3, P= 0·05). There were no differences in birth weight between children whose mothers had or had not fasted if Ramadan fasting had taken place later in pregnancy. Ramadan fasting during early pregnancy may lead to lower birth weight of newborns. These findings call for further confirmation in larger studies that should also investigate potential implications for perinatal and long-term morbidity and mortality.
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