Psychosocial and behavioral factors affecting inflammation among pregnant African American women

Nadia Saadat, Liying Zhang, Suzanne Hyer, Vasantha Padmanabhan, Jennifer Woo, Christopher G. Engeland, Dawn P. Misra, Carmen Giurgescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


African American women are reported to have greater inflammation compared with women from other racial groups. Higher inflammation during pregnancy has been associated with increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. We hypothesized that maternal inflammation is related to depressive symptoms and social and behavioral risk factors among pregnant African American women. Pregnant African American women (n ​= ​187) were recruited at prenatal clinics in the Midwest. Women completed questionnaires and had blood drawn at a prenatal visit. Plasma levels of cytokines (interferon gamma [IFN]-γ, interleukin [IL]-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-α) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured by multiplex assays. Women had a mean age of 26.58±5.42 years and a mean gestational age at data collection of 16.35±5.95 weeks. Twenty-six percent of women had Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scores ≥23 (scores that have been correlated with clinical diagnosis of depression), 15.5% smoked cigarettes, 16.6% used marijuana, and 5.3% reported experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). Higher CES-D scores were correlated with higher plasma CRP levels (r ​= ​0.16, p ​= ​0.046). Women who reported any experiences of IPV during pregnancy had higher levels of IL-8 (p ​= ​0.018) and lower levels of IFN-γ (p ​= ​0.012) compared with women who did not report IPV. Cigarette smoking during pregnancy was associated with lower levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 (p ​= ​0.003). These findings suggest that depressive symptoms, IPV, and cigarette smoking during pregnancy relate to select inflammatory markers in pregnant African American women. The relationships of inflammation with these factors should be further investigated to better understand the mechanisms which influence maternal and fetal health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100452
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
StatePublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nephrology


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