Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Nursing

Major Professor

Maureen W. Groer

Keywords

cortisol, immune, Perceived Stress Scale, preterm, Profile of Mood States

Abstract

Pregnancy is a time of alternating states of inflammation. The establishment of pregnancy is marked by controlled inflammation and transition toward an anti-inflammatory state for much of the gestational period before returning to an inflammatory state at the onset of labor. Stress and depression trigger the HPA Axis to produce cortisol and levels are maintained in a state of elevation during pregnancy and continue to rise before parturition.

The aim of this research was to explore the relationship of gestational age at delivery with mid-pregnancy levels of cytokines, stress and depression. Participant samples (N = 122) were collected between 16 and 26 weeks gestation and analyzed for 14 cytokines using a bead-based multiplex assay. Plasma cortisol was also measured along with demographic variables and measures of perceived stress and dysphoric mood.

Results of Pearson's correlations showed that gestational age at delivery was significantly inversely correlated with pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-ã and anti-inflammatory IL-13. A significant positive correlation was noted with the number of pregnancies in the obstetric history and pregnancy length. Both cortisol and stress were not correlated with gestational age at delivery.

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