Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications

Date:
July 17, 2013
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
Poor sleep quality and quantity during pregnancy can disrupt normal immune processes and lead to lower birth weights and other complications, a new study finds. Women with depression also are more likely than non-depressed women to suffer from disturbed sleep and to experience immune system disruption and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Poor sleep quality and quantity during pregnancy can disrupt normal immune processes and lead to lower birth weights and other complications, finds a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published today in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Women with depression also are more likely than non-depressed women to suffer from disturbed sleep and to experience immune system disruption and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

"Our results highlight the importance of identifying sleep problems in early pregnancy, especially in women experiencing depression, since sleep is a modifiable behavior," said Michele Okun, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Pitt's School of Medicine and lead author of the report. "The earlier that sleep problems are identified, the sooner physicians can work with pregnant women to implement solutions."

Adequate and high-quality sleep, both in pregnant and non-pregnant women as well as men, is essential for a healthy immune system. Pregnancy often is associated with changes in sleep patterns, including shortened sleep, insomnia symptoms and poor sleep quality. These disturbances can exacerbate the body's inflammatory responses and cause an overproduction of cytokines, which act as signal molecules that communicate among immune cells.

"There is a dynamic relationship between sleep and immunity, and this study is the first to examine this relationship during pregnancy as opposed to postpartum," added Dr. Okun.

While cytokines are important for numerous pregnancy-related processes, excess cytokines can attack and destroy healthy cells and cause destruction of tissue in pregnant women, thereby inhibiting the ability to ward off disease. For expectant mothers, excess cytokines also can disrupt spinal arteries leading to the placenta, cause vascular disease, lead to depression and cause pre-term birth.

Previous studies conducted postpartum have shown higher inflammatory cytokine concentrations among women who experienced adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia and pre-term birth. While infection accounts for half of these adverse outcomes, researchers discovered that behavioral processes such as disturbed sleep also may play a role, given the relationship between sleep disturbance and immune function.

Furthermore, higher concentrations of inflammatory cytokines also are found in depressed individuals.

The study is the first to evaluate all factors -- inflammatory cytokines, depression and insomnia -- and their possible combined effect on pregnant women. The study examined nearly 170 women, both depressed and not depressed, at 20 weeks of pregnancy and analyzed their sleep patterns and cytokine production levels over the course of 10 weeks (pregnancy-related physiological adaptations are in flux prior to 20 weeks).

The findings reveal:

  • Women with depression and poor sleep are at greatest risk for adverse birth-related outcomes. Cytokine levels may be one biological pathway through which this is accomplished, particularly with regard to preterm birth.
  • Any shift in immunity, such as poor sleep and/or depression, could set the stage for increased risk for adverse outcomes.
  • At 20 weeks, depressed pregnant women have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines compared to non-depressed women.
  • At 30 weeks of pregnancy, differences in cytokines among depressed and non-depressed women were negligible, likely because as pregnancy progresses, levels of cytokines normally increase.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michele L. Okun, James F. Luther, Stephen R. Wisniewski, and Katherine L. Wisner. Disturbed Sleep and Inflammatory Cytokines in Depressed and Nondepressed Pregnant Women: An Exploratory Analysis of Pregnancy Outcomes. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31829cc3e7

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164725.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2013, July 17). Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164725.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164725.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins