Listed in Issue 182


MATTES and COLLEAGUES, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Subiaco, P.O. Box 855, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia examined the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms upon foetal immune development.


Although there are recognized associations between psychological and immune function, the effects of maternal depressive symptoms on foetal immune development have not been investigated.


This study examined the relationship between maternal depression scores as assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) in the second trimester and measure of neonatal immune function measured in cord blood. This study was conducted in a cohort of women (n=83) who had received either fish oil containing 3.7 g/day n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3PUFA) or a placebo from 20 weeks gestation as part of a randomised controlled trial.


RESULTS: At 20 weeks gestation, prior to the intervention, 22% of women in the study manifested mild to moderate depressive symptoms (BDI > or =10). Neonates of these women had higher lymphoproliferative responses to a range of stimuli (including egg ovalbumin and cat allergen) compared with neonates of women with normal BDI scores (<10). These neonates also showed higher spontaneous cytokine production including (IL-6 and IL-10) and higher stimulated cytokine responses to both bacterial antigens and allergens. These patterns were evident after allowing for maternal age and education, parity, gestation, infant gender, delivery method and neonatal n-3/n-6 PUFA status.


This exploratory study supports the notion that maternal mood in pregnancy may have the potential to influence foetal immune development. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of this.


Mattes E, McCarthy S, Gong G, van Eekelen JA, Dunstan J, Foster J and Prescott SL. Maternal mood scores in mid-pregnancy are related to aspects of neonatal immune function. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity. 23(3): 380-8. Mar 2009.

ICAN Skyscraper

Scientific and Medical Network 2

Cycle Around the World for Charity 2023

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Charity 2023

Cycle from Milan to Venice for Regain 2023

top of the page